Indoor Potted Azaela: Root Rot or Too Dry? (Or something else?)

ilikewinterApril 25, 2008

I bought an azaela about 2.5 months ago- it is a very small one, I think it originally was in a four inch pot. I transplanted this azaela about 1.5 months ago- added more sphagnum peat moss, watered thoroughly after I transplanted and added a VERY diluted solution of root fertilizer. I only water when it feels like it is about to go dry in the next couple of days (so not dry yet). There is a light layer of sphagnum on top, too, to help retain moisture.

About two weeks ago I noticed one of the sections of the plant started to lose its leaves, but new buds were coming out. (I am not sure if there is more than one plant in this pot, or if it is all just one plant with four sections- it looks like four little "trunks".) The other parts of the plant looked fine, and had new, large leaves growing. That section of the plant went bare; now the other sections are beginning to go, sort of in succession. The new buds on the first section are dead now, although the stems looks like they are still alive.

I have had this azaela for about 2.5 months- could it possibly have been stressed from before?

Any ideas?

PS... I have never been able to figure out how to post pictures on here, so I created a gardening blog to upload my pictures to. I posted pictures of the problem there (it's the only entry). You can click on the pictures there to see them enlarged.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pictures of my Azaela

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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

If you've had it 2 1/2 months, you've had it about a month longer than most can manage. 99 out of 100 cannot make these happy indoors, I'm not in the 1% either ;)

The problem is most likely your low indoor humidity, very few of us have indoor conditions that will please these plants long term.

As for whether it was stressed earlier, the answer is yes. The florists azaleas have been on a regime of carefully controlled lighting, fertilizers, growth hormones, temperatures to force bloom out of their normal Spring cycle - you can't duplicate these greenhouse conditions at home.

Here is a link that might be useful: #5 Care and Planting Florist Azalea

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 8:43PM
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ilikewinter

Thank you so much for your reply. The link isn't working, however. Could you try again?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 11:21PM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

Your pot is way too large for the plant. Believe or not, indoor potted Azaleas prefer dry out between watering.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 11:27PM
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ilikewinter

Hmm... everything I've read says to definitely NOT let them dry out, including the grower. You've had success letting them dry out completely?

I think the pot is a little deep, yes, but it was all I had, =( and it was planted shallowly according to the directions... I put gravel in the bottom to help take up some of the space since azaleas have a shallow root system (so I've been told). Hopefully, that modification was ok.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 12:30AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Hmmmm, link working OK for me.

www.azaleas.org FAQ on the left under 'Azaleas'

Here is a link that might be useful: #5 of FAQ

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 1:04AM
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ilikewinter

Thank you so much for your help. Following the advice of one of the FAQ's, I took the azalea out of the pot to check its roots. When I did so, the root ball came right out- they hadn't grown into the new soil at all. Hmmm...

They (the roots) looked just the same as they did when I transplanted the plant... still in the shape of its former pot. They weren't too packed (root bound) when I transplanted it, so I am confused by this. Are they very slow growing? I did give it root fertilizer when I transplanted, so I thought I would see some root growth there.

The roots themselves... I can not tell if they are mushy or not, since they are so tiny and fragile anyway.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 12:55PM
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ilikewinter

Oh, also, I did the recommended root pruning when I transplanted by cutting slits into the more "root bound" area.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 2:13PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

The link is:

http://www.azaleas.org/index.pl/faq.html#flo

Morz8, you are posting the link:

http://www.azaleas.org/index.pl/faq.html#flohttp://www.azaleas.org/index.pl/faq.html#flo

That is the reason it is not working.

Here is a link that might be useful: #5 Care and Planting Florist Azalea

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 12:31PM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Hello, ilikewinter,

One year ago someone gave me a "grocery store" azalea in full bloom grown in Canada. After it finished blooming, I checked his little bottom, and sure enough it was root bound. From its 4" pot, I tenderly loosened its roots and placed it into a larger self-watering pot along with some soil I make from oak, maple, beech, etc. leaves and pine needles. Indoor azaleas cannot dry out or they most often will die. The self-watering pot seems to have made this little guy happy  pictured below. He bloomed recently for weeks and now he needs pruning. He lives on my desk facing an East window, a humidifier in the winter (for the people), and water from the self-watering pot has worked. Interestingly, the self-watering flower pot was made in Canada. My azalea lives in Connecticut. For the cost $5 or so, self-watering pots are well worth it. Good luck.

Kindly,

Jane

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 2:43PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Rhodyman, thanks for correcting the link if ilikewinter can read it now, always appreciate your help.

But all three, my two and yours, are clickable for me - XPSP2, IE7, so don't know what's up with that. It's over my head :)

Jane, you've done a nice job with your azalea indoors. They refuse to be happy inside for me.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 8:19PM
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ilikewinter

Thanks, everyone.

Jane, I have a question about self-watering pots. If the roots are too short to reach the water below, will the soil be able to absorb the water, as needed, instead? I have been trying to figure out just how this whole process works with those. I think the roots on mine are too short for any of the self-watering pots I have seen.

Another question: The leaves are all starting to go now. There are only a few healthy ones left- the rest are brown and dropping. Is there still a chance to save this little guy?
And... I do mist this plant every day now, sometimes several times a day, to try and compensate for lack of humidity; however, I have heard that a pebble tray would work for humidity levels. How warm inside the house does it need to be? The only warm window area is in the afternoon when the plant would get harsh western sun (I think it would burn it?), but that would seem to work well with evaporation in the pebble tray. It's still too cold to put the azalea outside- I think. (Changing daily from 40-70's, at night about 30-40.)

Once again, thanks to all of you!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 10:09AM
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corunum z6 CT(6)

Yes, the new soil in the self-watering pot will absorb the water (capillary action) and the roots of the little 4" pot plant will seek the moisture. Think of dipping the edge of a dry sponge slowly into a bowl of water  same thing. It wicks up. No offense, but you may be mothering the little guy too much. Stick him into a new self-watering pot, mine is an 8" diameter off the rack plastic job, put enough soil on the bottom of the pot to bring your azaleaÂs crown up to the just below the rim of the pot and then encircle him with more new dirt. Pat him into place, fill the reservoir with water, put the pot near some indirect light, not direct hotter than blazes western sun, and see what happens. Bottom line with any plant, if itÂs meant to live in your house, it will. If he conks out, at least you have a self-watering pot for the next attempt. My indoor azalea just happens to be happy, but I canÂt grow cyclamen  never could. You just do the best you can. Oh, btw, I do not put my indoor azalea outside, and yes, those little leaves would absolutely get fried. An open window for air circulation on a nice day, sure  circulating air helps to keep spider mites away. A day at the beach for the little fella? Nooo. All it wants is some light  direct sun is unnecessary. YouÂre little fellow is already feeling poorly, any extreme in light, temperature, feeding, etc., would probably push him into the next time zone. WonÂt hurt to let him try to recover in moist soil with a steady reservoir of water in regular household temperatures. Any more than that, and youÂd likely be in overkill territory. Give him a month or so with just constant moisture (not wet) and see if new life springs forth. Never know, he might make it!

Kindly,
Jane

P.S. Stop misting. Every 6 months or so, just give him a quick shower to dust him off.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 7:55PM
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