>1. Any idea on what went wrong with the azaleas?
Chances are that it is a cultural problem.
>2. When planting in clay, should I mix the clay 50/50 as most soil
>amendments/planting mixes instruct or should I just forget the clay
>altogether and plant completely in the planting mix?
It is best to forget the clay and used a raised bed so you get good
drainage and can control the pH. If you dig a hole in the clay is
becomes a tub and holds moisture which will kill azaleas. If you have
to use some clay with an organic media like peat, then add mangesium
sulfate (epson salts) to the mix to improve drainage in the clay.
>3. What is meant by organic, well-drained soil and what is the recommended
>planting mix for azaleas?
Organic just means that it contains loam (rotted leaves, twigs, etc.).
Well drained means that if you apply too much water the excess just
drains off and does not collect and drown the plant.
>4. What are the symptoms of too much water?
Plants wilt and die slowly from Phytophthora crown rot or wilt. This
root rot is the major killer of rhododendron and azaleas. It develops
when roots are growing in wet conditions. Plants infected with crown rot
caused by the fungi Phytophthora have roots which become clogged with
brown fungi internally. The roots get blocked and the plant wilts and
dies. There is not much of any cure for crown rot. Some varieties of
rhododendron and azaleas are vulnerable (Chionoides, Catawbiense Album,
Nova Zembla) and some are resistant (Roseum Elegans, Scintillation,
PJM). Sphagnum moss and bark dust combined with good drainage seem to
prevent crown rot, but do not cure it.
Wilt and slow death can also be caused by juglone poisoning from walnuts.
If plants wilt and die suddenly is usually caused by roots which are
girdled by larvae of the Black Vine Weevil and Strawberry Root Weevil.
*** weevils feed on the leaves at night. Specimens may be collected at
night for identification. The major damage is caused by weevil larvae
which girdle the roots and kill the plant. Larvacidal drenches may be
used to kill them but are of limited effectiveness. Foliar sprays are
very effective at controlling *** weevils when leaf notching starts.
Foliar sprays must be repeated until no ***s emerge.
Borers only affect the portion of the plant away from the roots from the
borer. If the borer is in the main trunk, then the entire plant will
wilt and die. The plant can be save by cutting off the area with the
borer and letting the plant regenerate from the roots.
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