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is it too late in the season to apply hollytone?

Posted by monkeyman_2006 (My Page) on
Fri, May 19, 06 at 22:35

i read that you're not supposed to in early or midsummer and you're supposed to fertilize in early spring but it isnt quite early spring anymore...or maybe it is... i dunno

any suggestions?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: is it too late in the season to apply hollytone?

It depends upon your purpose for applying fertilizer. Most rhododendrons and azaleas don't need fertilizer. They thrive in the wild with none at all. Still some people fertilize for specific reasongs.

Do you want a bigger bushier plant; if so then now to mid summer is not a problem.

Do you want more and healthier blooms, then now is a little late. It takes time for the fertilizer to be taken up by the plant. That is why early spring is best. Now is not the most effective time, but is probably better than not at all.

Do you just think you have to fertilize to be a good gardener; then it is too late. You don't need it.


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RE: is it too late in the season to apply hollytone?

i dont think you just have to fertilize to be a good gardener, im not sure what gave you that idea. i dont even like using hollytone bc it isnt organic but someone wants to that i know and doesnt wanna buy anything else

the plant is not blooming each year. it is in shade but not too much shade. we are thinking it may be low on nutrients....it hasn't really been taken care of. it is a large 4 foot wide 5 foot tall plant. looks healthy but just lacking blooms...

thanks, i wont fertilize it till next year.

do you think it would be ok to sprinkle some bonemeal ontop of the soil for long term phosphorus to encourage blooms?


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RE: is it too late in the season to apply hollytone?

I apply Hollytone but once a season (early spring) onto all of my acid loving plants. That's 3 large bags, along with a 40 lb bag of granular 5-10-5.

While all of my gardens are covered with years of oak leaf litter, a little "assist" from this gardener is just to make sure that they're prospering.

Thoughts Mr. Henning? Or am I wasting my $$?


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RE: is it too late in the season to apply hollytone?

I bought a big bag of HollyTone about 20 years ago. I apply it as needed and my plants haven't needed very much. This year is gave every plant about a couple tablespoons of HollyTone and a couple tablespoons of powdered sulfur and a couple tablespoons of MagAmp. That will do them for several more years. Since I don't want growth, just flowers and am getting flowers, I just fertilize and lower the pH when the leaves are beginning to show some discoloration.


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RE: is it too late in the season to apply hollytone?

Thank you. As my garden is but 8 years old, with newer plantings continually being installed, I take it by your comments, that annual Hollytone feeding is OK for the NEWER Garden?

Until the plantings closely approach that 10 yr growth projection, I will continue feeding as I have based on your own comments.

Again, thanks.


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RE: is it too late in the season to apply hollytone?

Why are you fertilizing? Are the plants showing any signs of a deficiency? If not, then fertilizing is not really doing anything good. Rhododendrons and azaleas are very light feeders. In the wild they frequently grow with aerial roots and don't feed on the soil. Getting them to grow in soil is an alien thing for many of them. I only recommend fertilizing if there are signs of problems. If you want to grow large green bushes with no flowers, then by all means fertilize annually.


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RE: is it too late in the season to apply hollytone?

They flower quite nicely. I'll redirect and limit the fertilizing of 5-10-5 to my perrenials etc. and take it from there with the rhodies. If I don't have to spend $50-$75 for Hollytone, so be it. But I also have a myriad of hollies, dogwoods, and a slew of other acid loving natives and non natives within my gardens.

What I've been doing hasn't reduced the amount of flowering whatsoever. If I have young(er) plants (3-5 years old), there's nothing wrong with my approach in terms of providing food for increased foliar growth? That's the basis of my question.

Your plants may be 10-20 years old. You feed and nurture differently and accordingly. Let's look at it this way. My approach appears to be no different than addressing the dietary needs of a child to that of a senior.

Thanks anyway.


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RE: is it too late in the season to apply hollytone?

If you enjoy buying HollyTone, buy my guest, but healthy plants in the proper soil don't need it. If you enjoy spending money, buy HollyTone by the bag. If you just want to acidify the soil, use powdered sulfur. That is what HollyTone uses. In the wild, many rhododendrons and azaleas, young and old, don't even need soil, they are epiphytes. They certainly never were fertilized and do very well. Most of my plants are 40 years old and get some fertilizer and sulfur about every 5 years. The first 5 years they were never fertilized and did quite well. I did use super-phosphate when I planted since our soil is deficient in Phosphorus.

I haven't figured out what good sprinkling fertilizer on top of a properly mulched rhododendron or azalea bed does. If the plants are showing the signs of some nutrition problem, which they do well before it is a problem, then I rake back the mulch, fertilize and then sprinkle the mulch back on top. After 40 years on my 1.5 acres, I am still on my first bag of HollyTone and first bag of MagAmp.


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RE: is it too late in the season to apply hollytone?

Now that's a bit more succinct Rhodyman. Thank you.

And I do have much better things to do with my $$$ than to make an annual Hollytone purchase. My plants are neither stressed nor are they faring poorly; they have flowered very nicely each spring.

Thanks again. I appreciate it sir.


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RE: is it too late in the season to apply hollytone?

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Thu, May 25, 06 at 21:31

Monkeyman, is your rhododendron getting enough water in summer when it would be setting buds for the following Spring?

Or, you may not think it's in too much shade, but there is the possibility it's too much for that particular rhododendron.

Another thought is, if it's blooming well every other year, are you deadheading spent blooms? It's not quite as important on well established older (much older) plants, but setting seed takes a tremendous amount of energy the shrub would otherwise utilize in setting flower buds, resulting in heavy flowering every other year.


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RE: is it too late in the season to apply hollytone?

I never use holly tone - my neighbor used it religiously but my rhodies outgrew and outbloomed his without it. Of course this meant my neighbor used even more - by the busketful - to keep up but if you ask me he probably burned his plants roots if thats possible


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RE: is it too late in the season to apply hollytone?

Yes, nitrogen damage is quite easy to do.

Too much nitrogen fertilizer after mid summer will keep a plant in a growth state when it should be going into dormancy.

Chlorosis can also be caused by nitrogen toxicity (usually caused by nitrate fertilizers) which damages the roots.

Bark split is most commonly caused by an early autumn frost while the sap is still high in the plant, or a late spring frost when the sap has already started to rise. For this reason it is dangerous to feed nitrogen to a rhododendron or azalea that could stimulate growth through to autumn.


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