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Late blooming azalea?

Posted by stuart_2008 7 GA (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 5, 08 at 19:28

One of my azaleas died due to a late frost. It seemed to be the most vigorous grower of the three I planted in the same spot. It was the only one that died, though. I was thinking about buying a later bloomer to potentially avoid the situation if that makes sense. Any ideas?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Late blooming azalea?

It doesn't make sense actually. A late frost/freeze may kill the flower buds but it doesn't kill the plant if the plant is normally hardy to that area (and it sounds like this one was).

What kind of azalea was it and was it an evergreen one or deciduous? How long had it been planted there?


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

The plant was probably 2 or 2.5 years old. It was a encore azalea and was evergreen. I don't recall the specific variety of encore. I know the plant had bloomed and it got hit with the frost and the flowers kind of melted. Later it died so I assumed it was the frost. It seemed to be a very healthy plant - it seemed to grow more vigorously than the other two I planted next to it.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

Have you looked to see if it suffered from bark split?


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

A frost should have just killed the tender new growth such as the flowers and new leaves. It should not have killed the roots and stems.

However, as LUIS mentioned, if you had bark split, that would have killed the plant. Bark split occurs when the plant is trying to push sap up from the roots but the top is frozen. The sap explodes the stem and in effect girdles the plant.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

"Encore azalea" was good enough to know what you were talking about. In addition to what Luis and rhodyman mentioned, also check around the base of the plant and see if any critters (like voles) chewed on the roots.

The good news is that you can consider replacing it with another azalea and not have to worry about finding one that blooms later.

Just to compare notes, I had several azaleas (deciduous ones) in full bloom and new tender growth when we had the now infamous Easter freeze in April 2007. All flowers and new growth turned to mush, but the plant rebounded after about a month just fine and looks healthy and is bigger than ever.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

In agreement with what was said above.
Nevertheless, in my garden the latest blooming azalea is Macranthum or Macrantha species (which one is correct, BTW?). Blooms later than any Gumpo or Satsuki hybrids toward the end of June/beginning of July. In z7GA should be earlier, but still later than others.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

I looked over the plant and there was no bark split. Also, did not see any sign of any kind of chewing on the roots or bark.

Now that I remember, this azalea didn't actually produce any blooms but did produce the pods they come out of before kicking the bucket. The other two azaleas next to it produced blossoms and they were melted by the cold so I just assumed it died from the frost or cold.

I've had several azaleas die. Three from being eaten by rabbits (we have no deer) in the dead of winter, and this one and another one that I can't determine the cause of death for which always bothers me.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

The major killer of azaleas is drowning, too much water. They need excellent drainage.

Another major contribution to death is a lack of mulch. The mulch is very important. It prevents root damage in the heat of summer, and frost heave in the dead of winter. It conserves moisture during dry spells and keeps out weeds which compete with the shallow roots of the azaleas.

However, I think what happened was actually last years drought. It causes die back which will normally just cause some of the branches to die, but can kill entire plants. It is prevented by mulching and watering during droughts.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to grow rhododendrons and azaleas.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

How can I determine if I am underwatering or overwatering? I watered the plant during the drought last summer. As with another one of my azaleas that died, I could never figure if I overwatered or underwatered. During the hot summer/drought I may water every couple of weeks.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

If they have good drainage then watering as you did should not kill them - the water drains away fast enough to not cause a problem. You need to review your planting techniques perhaps.

Azaleas need to be planted a little higher than level ground, almost on a little mound. That doesn't mean you don't dig a hole, but the hole should be shallow enough to have them raised up a bit at the end of the process. I spread extra dirt around to cover the edges and top it all off with a GOOD layer of mulch.

Also, when you pull your new azalea of the pot, be sure to gently loosen the root ball and spread any loose roots out to the sides.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

The best rule of thumb is never water the azaleas unless they look wilted in the morning. They will almost always look wilted in the afternoon of a very hot day, but if they are wilted in the morning, then they need a good drenching.

As ESH mentioned, the most important thing is good drainage. Many growers are going away from peat as a soil ammendment and going to bark dust because it drains better.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

Thanks for the information. If drainage is the root of all evil with my azaleas, how do I correct this? When I took the dead azalea out of the ground, it had a lot of hair-like roots. I don't see how I can take it out and separate the soil from the roots and replace with better draining soil and re-plant on a mound without killing the tiny roots.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

You don't need a soil transplant, just remove them and raise the bed and replant them. The raised bed is the best solution for poorly draining soil. Usually the soil around the roots is OK, the problem is the surrounding the soil that creates a puddle that drowns the plants. When preparing the raised bed be sure to use good acidic well drained soil. The raised bed need only be 6 to 8 inches above the surrounding soil, though 8 to 10 inches is probably better.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

Thanks, when creating the new mixture used beneath the plant to raise the bed would using 1/3 native clay soil, 1/3 coarse sand and 1/3 organic matter including bark mulch, manure, pine straw be okay. Would I need to add any acidic additives like sulfur given that I am using 1/3 clay? Thanks again.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

You can't adjust your acidity without knowing what it is. If your plants aren't showing any signs of chlorosis (leaves yellowing between green veins) then it isn't too bad. I would follow your procedure, but not use bark mulch, manure or pine straw. Manure is not appropriate for rhododendrons. Bark mulch and pine straw are good mulches for on top of the soil.

You can use what is sold where I live as peat humus. It is rotted peat and looks like dirt. You could also use any other good compost that does not have lime in it. It should be acidic. If you use compost, you can still use peat humus in the planting holes. You can mix the peat humus with your soil mix when planting.

You can also add some HollyTone and powdered sulfur. Apply the HollyTone at half the rate on the package and the sulfur at 1 lb per 100 sq feet. Actually you don't need HollyTone and sulfur on the entire bed unless you are planting lots of azaleas. You can spot treat the planting holes. In that case use half the HollyTone recommended for the size plants you have and about 1 tablespoon of sulfur for each plant mixed thoroughly in the planting media around the root ball. Then you can put the bark mulch and pine straw on top as mulch.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to grow rhododendrons and azaleas.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

Rhodyman, a popular product in Georgia is composted pine bark. It is sold as "Nature's Helper" and generically as "Soil conditioner". That is what I usually use when planting my azaleas/rhodos. The particles are very fine but still distinguishable.

I think that would be a good local substitute for "peat humus" as we don't have that around here.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

It sounds better that peat humus.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

I've been to Home Depot, Lowes, Ace, Pikes and others and can't find any course sand. I have found play sand and paver sand but not course sand, defined as having diameter between .5mm and 1mm usually. Can I use a combination of just the nature's helper and the clay if I can't find sand?


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

I was able to find swimming pool filter sand and it supposedly runs from .45mm to .55mm avg diameter and is cut sharply for better filtering.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

Sounds good.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

In Home Depot, you have to go inside to the lumber section and get "builder's sand". It is located next to the concrete mix at my HD. Usually comes in a 70 lb bag.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

i got some from a concrete plant. if you don't want much, they usually won't charge for something like a 5-gal. bucketfull or two. i gave the guy $5 and he dumped a small front-end loader pan into the bed of my truck.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

Thanks for the help. I have "mounded" my three azaleas using the mixture of 1/3 clay, 1/3 course sand and 1/3 Nature's Helper Soil Conditioner as we discussed. Would this mix work well for most plants? I have a Crape Myrtle that I planted last year and I was thinking about doing the same with it.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

Azaleas need an acidic soil. You didn't mention anything in your mix to make the soil acidic. Usually people add sphagnum peat, peat humus, oak leaves, or some other acidic material to make the soil acidic. To lower pH (make morer acidic) you can always use powdered sulfur.

You use the term "mound". Never plant an azalea deeper than it was originally. Usually plant it a little higher than it was before. I hope you mean you are using a raised bed which will help improve drainage. Surrounding the planted plant with sand, etc., will just form a dam which will make drainage much worse.

Then after planting, mulch with a material such as pine bark to help keep the soil cool in the summer, help protect the shallow roots from weeds, help conserve moisture, and help protect from temperature changes in the winter.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to grow rhododendrons and azaleas.


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

I should have called it a raised bed. I took the azaleas out of the ground and then put a mixture of sand, clay and Nature's Helper underneath to fill the hole and then put the azalea on top- raising it about 8 inches. Natures Helper is composted pine bark which is acidic. I thought with it and the clay, that would provide acid. Should I still add something to increase acidity?


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RE: Late blooming azalea?

Sounds good for azaleas then.

I don't raise Crape Myrtle. The Georga Extension Services says:

"Research has shown that organic matter amendments are not necessary when planting in individual holes. Amendments in the hole encourage roots to stay within the hole and not grow outward into the surrounding native soil. Amendments are most beneficial, therefore, when they are incorporated uniformly throughout the soil surrounding the planting hole."

So if you want to go to the trouble to prepare a bed for the Crape Myrtle, then go for it. Just don't do it in individual holes.

Here is a link that might be useful: Culture of Crape Myrtle in Georgia.


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