Organic, Well-Drained Soil? Azalea Problems!

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Organic, Well-Drained Soil? Azalea Problems!

Post by Bero » Sun, 27 Aug 2000 04:00:00



I planted and lost 6 Pink Gumpo Azaleas earlier this spring.  The azaleas
bloomed, grew rapidly, and maintained a nice green color until one-by-one,
they began to die.  The first symptoms were that the lower, interior
branches began to lose their leaves and die out.  Several weeks later, the
plant, almost overnight, looked very droopy as if it needed water and then
just rapidly turned brown and died.  I can't believe the plants were under
watered as my area has had ample rainfall this summer and I have kept them
watered during periods of "drought."  My only other suspicion is that
perhaps they received too much water (doubtful) or that I didn't correctly
prepare the soil when planting them in my local red clay.  Questions:

1. Any idea on what went wrong with the azaleas?

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?

3. What is meant by organic, well-drained soil and what is the recommended
planting mix for azaleas?

2. What are the symptoms of too much water?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Berob

 
 
 

Organic, Well-Drained Soil? Azalea Problems!

Post by Chris Moor » Sun, 27 Aug 2000 04:00:00



Quote:

> 1. Any idea on what went wrong with the azaleas?

The most common symptom of an ailing azalea is chlorosis or a yellowing
of the leaves. This usually means that the soil is not sufficiently
acidic. It may be prevented by proper planting and mulching. You didn't
mention mulch. Azaleas have a very shallow root system, most of them
lie only 3 or 4 inches from the surface. Mulch will keep the roots
moist at all times as it is important that they do not dry out.
Assuming they didn't dry out since you said they recieved lots of
water, the mulch also protects them from summer heat which is something
else that they are sensitive to. Azaleas require an acid mulch. The
best mulches for Azaleas are pine needles, oak leaves, or sawdust from
oak, cypress or hemlock. They also require a feeding of cottonseed meal
immediatly after the blooming blooming season. It should be sprinkled
over the mulch and watered in.

Quote:
> 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?

I wouldn't use planting mix at all. Also avoid manure because of its
alkaline reaction. Azaleas like natural organic soils. Break up your
clay with coarse sand and leaf mold. Better yet don't use your soil at
all and dig some up from a pine or coniferous forest, or from woods
where acid loving plants such as mountain laurel and blueberry are
growing.
 
 
 

Organic, Well-Drained Soil? Azalea Problems!

Post by Stephen M. Hennin » Sun, 27 Aug 2000 04:00:00


Quote:

>1. Any idea on what went wrong with the azaleas?

Chances are that it is a cultural problem.

Quote:
>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.

Quote:
>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.

Quote:
>4. What are the symptoms of too much water?

Death.  

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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