Fish Nutrients for Azaleas?

gretchenmi(Zone 5)July 12, 2006

A friend of mine is putting her "scrap" fish on her Azalea "for fertilizer"...It is already turning brown and losing leaves...Will be going out to replant it....Think she may not have enough drainage.....Going to eliminate the drainage and too much sun problem.......but could this be adding to it? TIA

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

You did not mention the name of the azalea, how old the plant is or the reasons for transplanting so I am going to make some assumptions here and be very general.

This time of the year is one when you can see lack of moisture in the form of browned leaves. Lack of water will first cause leaf wilting, then it will kill sections of the plant and finally it will kill the whole plant.

Too much water can be equally bad. It creates a fungal root infection that could have the same final outcome. That is why some people say that azaleas do not like "wet feet". If the azalea has wet soil then the plant could already be suffering from this.

So concentrate on stabilizing soil moisture levels. Make sure your friend manually checks the plant daily for the next week or two by inserting a finger in the soil to a depth of about 2-3 inches. If it feels dry then water. If it feels moist then take no action. And if it feels wet then cut back on watering. By doing it for 1-2 weeks, your friend will get an idea how often to water the plant. Maybe every other day, every two days, etc. If you find that you are watering often then consider watering longer or more.

In addition, make sure there is enough mulch to keep the soil moist: 2-3" thru the drip line or even a few more inches past. Windy weather can dry the top few inches as quickly as hot temperatures so pay attention to the weather forecast for sings of very high temps or wind advisories.

The fertilizer is unnecessary at this point of the year and actually should not be used now. It sounds like a healthy fertilizer though, as it will include many micronutrients. But the timing is the problem; fertilizing now makes the plants develop tender growth just as Fall approaches... the growth cannot withstand wintry temperatures and the new growth freezes/dies. It can also cause complications such as bark split.

Azaleas will feed of the decomposing mulch so no fertilizer is needed unless there is a problem with the soil. In that case, an application of Hollytone or cottonseed meal in mid-Spring and June should do it.

I did not understand the "problem" of too much sun since you did not elaborate. Many azaleas can be planted on Full Sun in Zone 5 but it depends on the variety. I do not think the leaf problem described is caused by too much sun.

Two more hints: feel free to prune dead steams at any time but leave live stems alone. You should prune live stems right after the bloomage stops. Flower buds for Spring 2007 are forming now so you do not want to accidentally cut them.

Post again if the symptoms change. Include picures if you have a digital camera. Good luck,

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 10:24PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Scrap fish? Does this mean actual fish in their raw state? I don't know of anyone using unprocessed fish parts in their urban gardens...but the problem of attracting rodents does definitely come to mind.

As for fertilizers in general, azaleas have low nutritional requirements compared to most far as I know they don't require cat food :)

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 12:11AM
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