Ask a Question forum: What's happening to these azaleas?

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Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
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Brinybay
Jul 10, 2015 2:58 PM CST
They appear to be drying up. The blooms I could understand, but the leaves appear to be dying too. This time of year (summer) they're in the shade of the house up until around 1:30pm, then they get full sun up until around 5pm, then shade from trees after that. I water them daily in the morning. At first I wondered if maybe the dirt didn't have enough nutrients in it, but the climbing rose that's in between them is doing just fine.

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Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
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Shadegardener
Jul 10, 2015 3:07 PM CST
Azaleas are shallow-rooted plants. The surface of the soil looks awfully dry even though you're watering. Is there any way you can mulch around the azaleas with shredded leaves or compost?
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
Jul 10, 2015 3:15 PM CST
It looks like sunburn to me but the soil looks very dry also. I don't know how intense the afternoon sun is in your area but I wonder if it could be a combination of too much direct sun and not enough water? Here in Florida Azaleas are grown in mostly bright shade because the intense sun would fry them.

Hopefully someone from your part of the country will come along soon and be able to offer advice but you might want to pose the question on the PNW forum: http://garden.org/forums/view/pacificnorthwestgard/ or the Pacific Coast Gardening Forum: http://garden.org/forums/view/pacificcoast/
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Jul 10, 2015 3:43 PM CST
I agree Greg - too much sun for those babies! Azaleas really like shade, where climbing roses will eat up all the sun you can give them. So that combo you've got going there is nice in theory, but . . . those azaleas need to move to somewhere with morning sun at most. In a few years when that climbing rose gets big and makes some shade there, maybe you can plant azaleas again with more success.

If you were having your "usual" Pac. Northwest summer, they might not have fried, but this year? Too hot for newly planted azaleas, for sure. Also always mulch everything that gets hot afternoon sun, it will not only help prevent weeds, it keeps the soil cooler and retains more moisture.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jul 10, 2015 5:22 PM CST
dyzzypyxxy said: I agree Greg - too much sun for those babies! Azaleas really like shade, where climbing roses will eat up all the sun you can give them. So that combo you've got going there is nice in theory, but . . . those azaleas need to move to somewhere with morning sun at most. In a few years when that climbing rose gets big and makes some shade there, maybe you can plant azaleas again with more success.

If you were having your "usual" Pac. Northwest summer, they might not have fried, but this year? Too hot for newly planted azaleas, for sure. Also always mulch everything that gets hot afternoon sun, it will not only help prevent weeds, it keeps the soil cooler and retains more moisture.


That's what I thought, they're sun-fried, plus my procrastination is costing me. I have some compost I intended to put in that area, just haven't yet. You're right about that dirt. It's a couple wheelbarrows of sifted dirt from the other side of the house where I'm working on forming a woodland/shade area (I have a thread here somewhere about it). I used it because I had no place to dump it, but planned to add compost. The spot for the azaleas was chosen because there used to be a healthy rhododendron plant there, but I unintentionally killed it when I cut it back too far and it never grew back.

I'll try moving the azaleas if it's not too late. If roses really like that spot, then I'll get a couple more to put there.
"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Jul 10, 2015 7:17 PM CST
Yep, they be happy in your woodland area on the other side of the house.

Prepare the new hole before you dig them up so they're out of the ground as short a time as possible. Get as big a root ball as you can so as not to traumatize them any more. I like to just slide big plants onto a plastic tarp when I'm trying not to disturb the roots.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jul 10, 2015 10:30 PM CST
dyzzypyxxy said:
If you were having your "usual" Pac. Northwest summer, they might not have fried, but this year? Too hot...for sure.


Audience: "HOW HOT WAS IT?!"

Johnny Carson: "It was SO hot, I saw two trees fighting over a dog!"

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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Jul 11, 2015 3:44 AM CST
Funny! Actually, based on your pictures, I think lack of water may have been your biggest problem. Watering every day doesn't necessarily get sufficient moisture to the roots if you're not watering enough each time. You could be just wetting the soil surface and it mostly evaporates before percolating down to the roots, even though azaleas/rhododendron have shallow roots.

Azaleas can take more sun in the "north" and you're actually further north than I am checking our latitudes. The afternoon sun is certainly going to be the hottest, and you've got the double whammy of the wall behind them that would catch and release even more of the heat, but if the plants have sufficient water IMHO it shouldn't be outright killing them.

I agree the soil does look like it needs some help with compost as well! Bear in mind also that azaleas/rhododendrons need an acidic soil. Do you know what your soil pH is? Also agree that mulching would be a good idea, but do make sure the soil is moist enough before you apply it.

My suggestion is to take a trowel and dig down a few inches into the soil near the azaleas before and after you water to make sure you are getting sufficient to the roots. You may need to be watering more deeply and less often.
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jul 11, 2015 11:37 AM CST
sooby said:

Do you know what your soil pH is?


No, how do I check the PH?

"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Jul 11, 2015 1:10 PM CST
You can get a soil test kit at Home Depot or Lowe's and do it yourself, or you can take a soil sample to your County Extension office to be tested. If you want more than one sample (eg. from several places around your yard) it's much more efficient and cost effective (here they charge $5 per test) to get a kit of your own. The kit to do 10 tests was about $10 last time I bought one - a long time ago.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jul 11, 2015 11:29 PM CST
dyzzypyxxy said:You can get a soil test kit at Home Depot or Lowe's and do it yourself, or you can take a soil sample to your County Extension office to be tested. If you want more than one sample (eg. from several places around your yard) it's much more efficient and cost effective (here they charge $5 per test) to get a kit of your own. The kit to do 10 tests was about $10 last time I bought one - a long time ago.


A soil test kit would be a good tool to have, especially as I get more experience at digging in the dirt, but I think I'll move the azaleas to a spot more to their liking. Since it appears to be a good spot for roses, I'll get a couple more of different colors to put there. Is there such a thing as purple roses? That's my wife's favorite color.

"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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dyzzypyxxy
Jul 12, 2015 7:52 AM CST
There are some sort of mauve-y roses, and many very dark reds but so far I don't think roses actually come in purple.

People do plant clematis as a companion plant to roses, though. They sort of climb through the rose branches and it makes a beautiful display. There are many stunning purple clematis, including Jackmanii, an old classic and her many progeny.

Here's a nice article c/w pictures:
http://garden.org/ideas/view/zuzu/2349/Clematis-Rose-Combina...
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jul 12, 2015 2:50 PM CST
dyzzypyxxy said:There are some sort of mauve-y roses, and many very dark reds but so far I don't think roses actually come in purple.

People do plant clematis as a companion plant to roses, though. They sort of climb through the rose branches and it makes a beautiful display. There are many stunning purple clematis, including Jackmanii, an old classic and her many progeny.

Here's a nice article c/w pictures:
http://garden.org/ideas/view/zuzu/2349/Clematis-Rose-Combina...


That's an interesting idea. As a matter of fact, we have some purple clematis growing in the back. Is it possible to get a split from these? I noticed it's hard to find where the stems go into the ground.

I changed the location of the azaleas to the front garden where I think they'll like it better, more shade there. I swapped locations of one of them with the Blue Russian Sage that's supposed to be getting full sun. I also wetted the dry dirt in the old location, spread some compost over it and tilled it in with a garden weasel, then wetted it again.
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[Last edited by Brinybay - Jul 12, 2015 2:52 PM (+)]
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Jul 12, 2015 6:22 PM CST
I've tried to start cuttings of clematis, but had little success and it takes a long time for them to size up. You're better off to just buy one that's already blooming size. I got a couple of really nice ones at Lowe's for $12.95 when I was in Salt Lake a month or so ago. But watch the ads and you can get them for less.

Another tip, when we were planting my daughter's garden in Salt Lake, literally from scratch (a baked clay wasteland), we got 40% off on perennials, shrubs and trees at the end of the season, so if you're planning to buy those types of things for your new areas, that's a great time to buy and also a really good time to plant.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Aug 2, 2015 9:55 PM CST
Here's how the azaleas are doing after I moved them a while back, I took these pictures today. One is barely hanging on, but it still has some green, so there's hope. The other seems to be doing ok, but it wasn't as bad of shape as the other.
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"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
[Last edited by Brinybay - Aug 2, 2015 9:56 PM (+)]
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Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Aug 3, 2015 7:38 AM CST
Perhaps it would a good idea to mulch the surface of the soil. It's would help keep the soil a little cooler and prevent moisture evaporation. The soil does look a little dry.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Aug 3, 2015 8:19 AM CST
You really, really need to mulch to not only protect those shallow roots from frying but also to help hold moisture in the soil.
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Aug 3, 2015 8:27 AM CST
Agreed the soil looks dry, and stony although hard to tell that for sure from a picture. Make sure to water before apply mulch as suggested earlier Did you amend the soil with anything like peat moss when you planted them and did you ever get around to a soil test because the leaves on the one that still has them look like they have interveinal chlorosis on the youngest ones, a sign that the pH is probably too high?
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Aug 3, 2015 9:21 AM CST
If available, some yard waste compost would be good on the surface of the soil and then topped with some mulch. The compost would help gently feed both the soil and the plants. Do you use any yard herbicides in that area?

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