Mt. St. Helen Azalea not doing well

nanaclaire(5b)May 26, 2013

I bought two of these scrubs 2 years ago. I planted them in a partly sunny spot. Last year there was not many green leaves and only a couple flowers. This year, there are less green leaves. I am thinking I should dig them up and move them to a sunny location. Any ideas?

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ericwi

Have you checked the pH of the soil around your azaleas?

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 9:27PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

If it is a pH problem, the leaves will be yellowish with green veins. The most common problem is improper planting. Rarefind Nursery has excellent directions on planting. These also work for replanting. Be sure to open up the roots and mulch well after planting. Also, choose a VERY WELL drained area.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to plant azaleas.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2013 at 3:44PM
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nanaclaire(5b)

I posted a picture The leaves look green to me. The pictures do make them look on the yellow side though but they look green.. maybe a light green. I don't know how to check for pH. That may be the problem. Do places like Home Depot and Lowes test for you? I have some fertilizer for my Hydrangea... is that the same for Azaleas?

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 8:31PM
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nanaclaire(5b)

2nd pic

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 8:33PM
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nanaclaire(5b)

You know the more I think about it... they are planted in an area that gets mushy with water .... so I think I definitely will move them to another location. I can move them to the other side of the house where the water doesn't accumulate. It gets sun in the morning ... not sure that is enough. I might have to move it closer to the front of the house where it is sunny all day??

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 8:36PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

They are chlorotic. When you can see the green veins like that, it is chlorotic. However wet conditions can cause chlorosis also. Some areas in the Pacific Northwest are actually too acidic which also causes chlorosis. 99% of the time chlorosis is caused by low acidity. I would add a little powdered sulfur to help with the acidity and a small dose of HollyTone.

Be sure to plant them on a slight mound, never deeper than they were when they came from the nursery.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to plant azaleas.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 9:59AM
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nanaclaire(5b)

Thanks rhodyman. I am going to move them this weekend and add the fertilizer. I have fertilizer for hydrangea. I think they take the same fertilizer.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 11:58AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Hydrangeas can use aluminum sulfate to increase acidity. Aluminum sulfate kills rhododendrons and azaleas. So make sure it doesn't have aluminum sulfate. Sulfur is the best and longest lasting acidifier to azaleas. Iron sulfate is good and works more quickly, but doesn't last as long.

Also, most hydrangea fertilizer has chemical nitrogen. This is bad for rhododendrons and azaleas because it kills natural mycorrhiza fungi in the soil which are essential to provide iron and other nutrients to the roots. The best azalea fertilizer is HollyTone.

Whatever you do, don't use very much fertilizer. Too little is much better than too much. With azalea fertilizers, use half the amount recommended on the package and only apply once right after the blossoms fade.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 7:51PM
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nanaclaire(5b)

I have Soil Acidifier (organic traditions) and it consists of 30% Sulfur/ 18% free sulfur and 12% combined sulfur. I used that today when I replanted the two azalea plants.... put some in the ground before putting the azaleas in. Should I add more on top? I have to buy some topsoil to mound them (tomorrow). Hope it works. I don't want to have to dig them up again and move them. I don't know much about these obviously.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 8:20PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

I would wait a year and see if the yellow between the green veins goes away.

I don't understanding planting them today and then buying topsoil to mound them tomorrow. You should build the mound before planting. Never plant any deeper than they were originally planted. I must not understand something.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 9:13AM
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nanaclaire(5b)

Rhodyman, it is prob. me not understanding. I thought mounding meant to put more dirt up around the plant like a hill. Sorry. I didn't plant them deeper than they were orig. planted. Good idea. I will wait until next spring and see how they look and hope they get more leaves between now and the Fall. Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 10:40PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Rather than mounding, mulch them. Mulch is placed over the roots but not touching the main stem (trunk).

Rhododendrons and azaleas have a fine, hair-like root system that grows outward on the top 2-3 inches of soil. Since the roots are so shallow, any cultivating or pulling roots out will disturb the roots. They like moist, but well drained soil with lots of organic matter and a good dressing of mulch. Soil around the rhododendron's shallow roots must be kept cool. To keep the soil weed free, cool and moist, mulch it with a 2-3 inch layer of an airy organic material such as shredded leaves, leaf mold, pine needles, or pine bark mulch. Don't use shredded hardwood mulch since it often drives the pH upward. Pine bark is especially useful since it can lower the pH where it is too high, but it is best used on relatively flat ground since it's light in weight and tends to float away in heavy rain.


[Sketch courtesy of Harold Greer]

Rhododendrons do best when they have about a 2" to 3" layer of mulch to hold in moisture, prevent weeds, and keep the roots cool. Since most mulches are organic, they need to be topped off periodically, usually about every year or two. Do not make the mulch over 3" thick. Keep the mulch about 2" to 3" back from the trunk/stem of the plants to avoid bark split, collar rot, and rodent damage. It is best to mulch with a 2-3 inch layer of an airy organic material such as conifer wood chips, ground bark, pine needles, pine bark or rotted oak leaves. A year-round mulch will also provide natural nutrients and will help keep the soil cool and moist.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 9:28AM
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nanaclaire(5b)

I have mulch! :) I will do that. Thanks for the info. I'm going to copy it for future reference.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 8:31PM
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