Azalea Question

benflowerApril 28, 2010

I'm in the Sandhills NC7-- planted three azaleas 10 days ago-- they were mostly in full bloom-- planted, watered, etc as usual. One plant seemed to wilt (blossoms, not leaves) and after noticing that the roof line allowed sun until around 4:00 pm just on that plant, I decided I should move it. Well, I moved it out of the afternoon sun, no difference in the wilting. Now the others are doing the same. Could I be watering too much? There is new leaf growth on all three plants, but they just don't look like they are doing well. Any advice?-- It seems I just don't do well with azaleas, and I really want these to live.


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Benflower, It could be that they are done blooming and the flowers are dying. If the new groeth isn't wilting, I wouldn't worry too much and just keep them well watered.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 12:32AM
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safariofthemind(z7b NC)

Oftentimes when plants are transplanted the shock makes them drop blooms so the plant can concentrate on making feeder roots. It's normal and the plant should recover fine next season. Remember that azaleas don't like lime so be careful when liming your lawn. Also, go easy on the water; they only need about 1" of water per week so unless temperatures go above 85F don't water them more than every 3 days. RJ

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 7:53AM
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Thanks for the responses. I will keep an eye on them and hope for the best.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 8:42AM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

ben, were your plants displayed in full sun when you bought them? If not, they might be a bit shocky from an abrupt change in light level.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 1:33PM
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I second (and third) the transplant shock. I will add as well, some varieties can take full sun just fine. The issue is mainly that the dry, hot environment this creates is just what spider mites and lace bugs thrive in. Giving them shade during the hottest part of the day keeps the relative humidity around the plant a little higher and helps to deter the pests. So, while morning sun is ideal, a little afternoon sun isn't going to kill them them. It seems to be mostly the hybrid varieties that have big issues with sun exposure but that's just a personal observation and not necessarily true. If you have good vision, the lace bugs and spider mites can be spotted but(they are very tiny, especially spider mites) most times, the first thing you will notice are tiny speckles on the top part of the leaves where they have been sucking on the plants. In that case, if you look on the underside of the leaves, this is where you will find these pests. Tips of leaves that are brown and look burned can mean they are being over watered. I killed five azalea plants quickly thinking that the crispy tips meant they needed more water. Azaleas have very fine roots and need good drainage. And if you get a flush of blooms in the fall, don't worry if it does not bloom as profusely the following Spring.

Another thing to consider is the variety you have. Some can get rather large(8-10 feet tall). You want to make sure that you give the ones you have plenty of space and especially not put them too close to the house or near a downspout. Technically, because of the capillary action of foliage touching your house, you are not supposed to let anything touch your house. I'm not sure how true this is with something like vinyl siding but I know that masonry can leech moisture off of the leaves of the plant (dew/rain) and draw it into your insulation increasing the chance of molds and mildews growing in the walls. Granted I have a mat of ivy (that the inspector lectured me heavily about) growing up the side of my house and all my foundation shrubs are in direct contact in the front. In the case of azaleas though, it can stunt the growth of young plants.

As far as soil conditions go, they enjoy an acid soil so amendments that add to that environment, such as pine bark and rotted leaves can be an improvement in that area and increase drainage in heavy soils. Depending on how much clay content you have, it can be better to plant them where the crown of the plant is above the ground and mound the soil up to the crown rather than plant them even with the soil or even create a raised bed for them.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 9:13AM
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Thanks for the responses-- I think the soil is plenty acid, and drainage is not a problem. Also they are not planted close to the house. The issue with lace bugs and spider mites reminds me that I lost some trailing gardenias in that same area last year-- maybe that was the problem, however I did not see any signs, but just browning of leaves -- I sprayed, but they still died.

Update on azaleas-- they are looking fine-- blooms have dropped off but foilage looks good-- maybe I'm ok

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 5:19PM
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neonrider(USDA 8A ^ Sunset 31 ^ Mid-SC)

I will donate several adult azalea shrubs (between 2 ft. and 7 ft. tall). Located in Columbia, South Carolina area. You will have to dig them up yourself.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 11:18AM
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Thanks for the offer out of Columbia--- But I'll pass. Bet there's someone closer to you that might like them.

Thanks anyway

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 3:46PM
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