Ask a Question forum: Azalea bushes

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Boonville In.
carlheck
Mar 1, 2018 11:19 AM CST
I have 2 reblooming Azalea plants that barely bloom. I was told by the garden center to fertilize the plants , but it did not help. The plants are 4 yrs. old . They face the east and I live in southern Ind. I am about ready to dig them up and start over. I need some help.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 1, 2018 11:40 AM CST
Hi Carl, I would think in Indiana your azaleas must be just barely starting to think about growing this spring.

Wait and see if the fertilizer you gave them has helped them. If they put on some new growth last fall, it will show up as more good blooms this spring. Did you use a fertilizer specifically formulated for azaleas? That's important.

Give them a chance to do their thing, then I would think about amending the soil after they have finished blooming. Perhaps get a soil test, because if the soil isn't acidic enough for azaleas that might be the problem. They simply can't access the nutrients they need from the soil if it's to alkaline. Also after blooming is the time to give them a fertilizer specific for azaleas and other acid-loving plants.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Mar 1, 2018 11:54 AM CST
My husband's Uncle raised the most beautiful azaleas that he shared with me. My azalea plants in CA lived on a north facing slope under trees and bloomed profusely. In Reno, my azaleas get east sun until about 11 am and they also bloom. I don't think light is the issue.

Azaleas need acidic soil and fertilizer specifically formulated for azaleas. They don't have large root systms so Uncle Ron's formula was dig a hole (about 5 gallon size but wider than deep). Mix milled peat with the native soil (if its decent. In Reno, I discard the native soil and use garden soil as my native soil is high in alkalines) at the ratio of 1:1 - half peat, half soil.

If an azalea didn't perform, he ripped it up (literally) and replanted it in the same spot but with new peat. It worked everytime. I'm not sure if he scared them into performing or, periodically, they need re-planting.

My advice: Yes, dig them up but don't discard them, re-plant with 1/2 milled peat (make sure the peat is completely wet - dry spots will burn the roots and kill the plants). Plant the root ball slightly above soil level as they are very prone to rot. Use azalea food.

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Boonville In.
carlheck
Mar 1, 2018 1:25 PM CST
Thanks for the information. I did fertilize them with azalea food for 2 years. Going to try again, if it doesn"t work will try the soil idea.
Name: Johnny
Titusville FL. (Zone 10a)
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neverdone
Mar 1, 2018 6:19 PM CST
I had the same problem with mine [email protected] I went to the local feed store after a soil test and purchased soil sulphur in a 50lb. Bag for 30dollars. Which is alot I know, but home Depot sells 4lb bag for $ 10.00. I used 1/2 a cup per plant, and mulched them with pine needles and oak leaves,and they took off. They are planted under a campher tree surrounded by oaks iand 7 pine trees, and the soil STILL needed acid! Hope this helps. They seem to love the water too. Good luck
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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
Mar 1, 2018 8:07 PM CST
Oh, what Johnny wrote reminded me - have you tested the pH of your irrigation water? If you're watering with "hard" water or well water that is high pH that can block your acid-loving plants from taking up nutrients, as well. A cheap aquarium test kit, or a swimming pool test kit will give you an accurate reading, and you can treat accordingly. My well water has a huge pH of 8.2 and I just need to add a tablespoon of vinegar to a 2gal. watering can to lower it to neutral.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Johnny
Titusville FL. (Zone 10a)
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neverdone
Mar 2, 2018 2:49 PM CST
wow Elaine! @dyzzypyxxy that is a great idea. I have fought to keep these plants alive for a year . this is their first spring to bloom! the hard water may explain why I need a ton of pine needles and oak leaves not to mention soil sulpher and soil acidifier, fertilizer, miracle grow sleepless nights a fib etc lol. out of 22 bushes, 4 have died, 4 are so so, and the rest are doing what they are supposed to be doing. here are some pics of the sick....
Thumb of 2018-03-02/neverdone/2378a8


Thumb of 2018-03-02/neverdone/6f81d0

and the healthy
Thumb of 2018-03-02/neverdone/e01c6a


Thumb of 2018-03-02/neverdone/2a1a88


Thumb of 2018-03-02/neverdone/b9ed27


Thumb of 2018-03-02/neverdone/4bc102


Thumb of 2018-03-02/neverdone/119696


Thumb of 2018-03-02/neverdone/f4e6b2

thankyou for the water idea! that could be a lot of it. they are also under a kampher tree that secrete a bad oil to ward off plants. of course I didn't know this when I spent 200 dollars for 22 azelia bushes D'Oh! I will keep in touch. Thank You!

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