Do these Azaleas need more or less water?

fablauOctober 4, 2009

Hello here,

I have five Azaleas in my backyard I am having an hard time to make them grow well, I am concerned they are taking too much water... but I am not sure! It's almost one year they look like in the following pictures:

and despite I changed their watering schedule several times, their appearance doesn't change.

Do you think they need more water? Or they got it too much? I am watering them just twice a week. Any thoughts s are very welcome, thank you.



Here is a link that might be useful: My azaleas pictures

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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Your azaleas are in tough shape. They should be well-clothed in green leaves.

But I'm not at all surprised because in SoCA, the soil pH is generally a tad high for azaleas.

Further, the arid climate is exceedingly rough on them.

who formerly gardened in Long Beach, CA, for 30-some years

    Bookmark   October 5, 2009 at 12:19AM
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Azaleas need water regularly and I notice from the pictures that there is no mulch. Try adding 3-4" of mulch so you minimize the amount of waterings that will be needed. If the soil is as alkaline as Jean suggests, you will also need to amend the soil regularly with garden sulphur or iron chelated liquid compounds. A soil test (available from your Agric Extension Service) or a soil pH kit (available on many nurseries and by mail) can tell you how alkaline your soil is.

Azaleas like to grow in acidic soil whose pH ranges from 4.5 to 6.0 but will tolerate a little more alkalinity. Growing them in raised beds may make the soil alkalinity/acidity easier to control. Growing them in pots is another alternative. If your soil is alkaline, there is also a good chance that your water IS also alkaline. Applying water from the faucet regularly may undo the effect of garden sulphur and force you to apply those amendments more frequently.

It is very easy to tell if they need water. Insert a finger to a depth of 4" to see if it feels wet, moist or dry. If it feels dry or almost dry then water. If it feels moist, do nothing. If it feels wet, determine what is causing that because azaleas do not like wet feet for long periods of time. Be careful when researching the cause of wet soil as most of the roots are in the top 4" of the soil.

Use the finger method daily for 2 weeks and make a note on a calendar every time that you have to water. After two weeks, determine how often you had to water and set your sprinkler or drip irrigation to water 1g of water on the same frequency. If the temperatures vary by 10-15 degrees plus or minus, you can check again to see if you need to tweak things. If your soil is sandy, add 1.5 g of water instead of 1g.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2009 at 10:52PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

It was suggested "A soil test (available from your Agric Extension Service"

Not available in CA.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 12:15AM
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Thank you for your replies, I will look into carefully. I thought was possible to understand if there is too much water or too few by the pictures and the color of the leaves. Anyway, I will try to use my finger to understand that. Thank you again very much. I will post my progress here.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 10:24AM
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Good luck. I wonder why the state does not do soil tests? Jean? Do you remember? Just wondering... By the way, I saw where the private soil tests available in CA are fairly expensive compared to other states. Maybe someone should consider establishing a business to offer lower priced tests in CA?!?!? Hee hee hee!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 10:17PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

It was asked "I wonder why the state does not do soil tests?"

It's not the state. It's the University of California Extension Service. They haven't done soil tests for many years.

It's the same in a number of other states. Here, Oregon State University doesn't do soil tests anymore, either.

It's a budget thing.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2009 at 11:38PM
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