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Azalea Root Upheaval

Posted by BugsyBoy VA (My Page) on
Sat, Sep 10, 05 at 19:51

I was looking at my azaleas today and I noticed that the soil around the base of one of the plants looked like it had been pushed up. In fact, the whole base area of the plant seemed to be elevated and the mulch had a clear break in the same spot. I lightly stepped on this area and the soil compressed easily. To my horror, the whole azalea moved when I did this. It seems to be like there is a void right below the surface near surface roots. The plant has been suffering from dieing branches for a year now.

I have no idea what the problem is, but I wonder if it could be one of the following:
1. Larva from japanese beetles (grubs)
2. A mole (possible eating larva)

I have problems with both of the above in the back yard, but the azaleas are in the front yard.

Thanks for any feedback you might be able to provide :o)

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Azalea Root Upheaval

  • Posted by MorZ8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Sat, Sep 10, 05 at 22:15

I'm going to cast my vote for mole. Can you pull the mulch back and investigate with your hand? You may have a tunnel to fill...I've had several of my own this year. Problem is, if you can't dispatch the mole (s) and this is a regular run, they will open it up again. (The mole tunnels can also drain any irrigation water away too quickly for it to be of much benefit.)

They do eat grubs of course, but the mole killed here this year had a tummy packed full of nightcrawlers...all that compost I've been adding for years? Not that an autopsy was done, but if I told you how we knew what the diet had been I'd have to describe DH's aim with a foresters hoe. :)

RE: Azalea Root Upheaval

I have a different theory as I experienced the very similar situation few years ago.
Before I knew any better, I planted few azaleas without tearing apart their pot bound root balls. Though I planted them 1-2 inches above the soil level and put mound of soil and mulch on top of it, next year they were look like they were had been pushed up similar to heucheras heaving and mulch was washed out of the root zone. Plants didn't grow an inch for the whole season.
I dug them out and of course root ball was in a same exactly 'pot shape' as it was a year ago. Also, it was much drier than surrounding soil.
After all was done properly they took off and growing happily ever since.

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