Azalea first styling from nursery

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Bought this one at the bonsai nursery about a year ago. I left it to grow unchecked for all its time at my place to let it get vigorous and ready for the repot and hard pruning I knew I would perform on it.
it has now been 9 days since it’s first styling and little buds are budding out profusely everywhere, bottom to top!
Foundation is set and now ready for some more refining. I did leave some flower buds to see the flowers but I had to do it now since we’re about to approach summer weather and did not want to wait for post flowering pruning in order to not risk health decline due to avoid exposing it too much extreme heat.
 

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p_anova

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Bought this one at the bonsai nursery about a year ago. I left it to grow unchecked for all its time at my place to let it get vigorous and ready for the repot and hard pruning I knew I would perform on it.
it has now been 9 days since it’s first styling and little buds are budding out profusely everywhere, bottom to top!
Foundation is set and now ready for some more refining. I did leave some flower buds to see the flowers but I had to do it now since we’re about to approach summer weather and did not want to wait for post flowering pruning in order to not risk health decline due to avoid exposing it too much extreme heat.
Nice! Question, how hard did you get after the roots considering you were doing a hard prune on the foliage? I have one that I just picked up and I plan to do the same next year . I basically thinned it out to allow light in but that is it.20220426_141451.jpg
 
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Nice! Question, how hard did you get after the roots considering you were doing a hard prune on the foliage? I have one that I just picked up and I plan to do the same next year . I basically thinned it out to allow light in but that is it.View attachment 434872
Great question. Yours looks like it comes in organic soil. The recommendations I’ve been given is that when that is so, is to really take as much as possible, and root prune about half of roots. But the most important things is to take off as much as possible from old soil and transfer to kanuma. Mine already had come with kanuma soil so it was easier to repot.
@Deep Sea Diver any tips? I trust your advice better on this. Or @Glaucus
 

p_anova

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Totally right about the potting soil.......mushy and heavvvvvyyyy. I think I will just blast the hell out of the roots next Spring and place it in the kanuma without the restyle. I did not realize that yours was already in the good stuff so I thought that you hit it hard from top and bottom all in one go. Thanks for the tip and make sure you post follow up photos. Can't wait to see what it looks like in the fall.
 

Deep Sea Diver

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@p_anova Perhaps it would be best to begin a thread on your tree? Here’s some preliminary information. The rest you can pick up on your thread.

If your plan is to move your azalea out of nursery soil and into bonsai soil, I’d recommend carefully root washing out all of the old media, including chunks of bark, perlite etc.

Blasting the hell out of the roots is an interesting approach, yet I wouldn’t recommend it myself. The goal is to keep the primary structure of the roots intact and as much secondary roots as practicable.

cheers
DSD sends
 

p_anova

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@p_anova Perhaps it would be best to begin a thread on your tree? Here’s some preliminary information. The rest you can pick up on your thread.

If your plan is to move your azalea out of nursery soil and into bonsai soil, I’d recommend carefully root washing out all of the old media, including chunks of bark, perlite etc.

Blasting the hell out of the roots is an interesting approach, yet I wouldn’t recommend it myself. The goal is to keep the primary structure of the roots intact and as much secondary roots as practicable.

cheers
DSD sends
Thank you for the info! The potting soil shall be given no quarter....none, but I will go about it delicately.
 

Glaucus

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You need to work the roots on most nursery azaleas. They are likely to be pot bound, with the roots forming a layer against the plastic pot. The root ball needs to be opened up. Besides that, if you want to get peat out and kanuma in, then that is another thing. You want the new mix to be as homogeneous as possible, both inside and outside of the root ball. Those are horticultural considerations. Bonsai-wise, nebari is extremely important. In that sense, removing roots that don't contribute to future nebari is a good step forward. Removing the bottom 2/3rd of the roots in early spring is usually safe.

This video shows how you can work the roots of a azalea bonsai:
 

Ugo

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Hi!

I'm interested by Azalea only since a few months now but I now realize that this type of tree is a whole new world in itself.
There is a lot to know!

I have never tried to switch from potting soil to kanuma but from what I know I would really listen to the advises from more experienced members.
Here some info's that might be useful for you (Please take theses with a grain of salt... I don't have many years of experience so please correct me if I'm in the wrong!)

As @Deep Sea Diver suggest:
If your plan is to move your azalea out of nursery soil and into bonsai soil, I’d recommend carefully root washing out all of the old media, including chunks of bark, perlite etc.

In theory I know you can do this if the tree was in ground and in good health.
If I wanted to do so from a nursery pot I would be even more careful if the health of the tree is not 100% so please judge your timing accordingly.

The ''sheen'' under the trunk of Azalea is a crucial part.
As you plan to work on that part of the root ball, I would ask if a ''half bare root is an option?
Whatever the answer make sure to really fill that part of the root ball with substrate, no air pockets as your tree apex could be weakened and possibly die.
I don't think would will find deep roots in the nursery pot as Azalea create very fine surfaces roots like ''hair'' size roots, and as @Glaucus said earlier:
They are likely to be pot bound, with the roots forming a layer against the plastic pot.

So you will have to clean the top of the root ball for sure.
You have to make sure water can penetrate under the trunk so the ''sheen'' have access to water when the tree is watered.

If you plan on keeping the Azalea outside under the sun and the outside temp. is high, I would suggest a light color for the pot...Duh.. but depending on your climate I would also suggest to not go with a very shallow pot...
Azalea have a fragile root system... If the sun is out, the water demand will be high and if the roots are cooking in the pot due to the sun hitting it it wont be a very good afternoon for this poor tree!
Going with a slightly deeper pot will retain more moisture ''duh'' but will help cooling the pot.

If you decide to go with the repot, I would let the tree grow but vegetative grow only not wasting energy on flower production.
You will see Azalea can add meat on branches in a matter of weeks, they will back bud from ''everywhere'' if they are fed heavily and receive proper care!

Have fun working on it and please keep us updated!
Ugo
 
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Unfortunately, in the past few days I’ve noticed some changes in the health of the tree. Some loss of vigor and signs of die back on a few branches. It’s been getting hot now over here with most days up to 95F. I’ve been keeping it mostly under shade and if sun hits it, it is under shade cloth.
I water it everyday, and it is under 90% kanuma and 10% pumice… my understanding is that you cannot overwater this mix and azaleas love water. I noticed that also the moss hasn’t been drying out either, as well as the surface of the kanuma has been not wet but not moist either, between waterings. Am I overwatering perhaps or is the heat somehow affecting it? The weeks after the major surgery, it budded back super healthy and in strong health, I haven’t changed anything since then.
Very puzzling. Any help I’d appreciate.
 

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yashu

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Perhaps you are seeing the results of what @p_anova was getting at. I did my repotting on newly acquired azaleas about a month ago but I’m waiting until after flowering (as is the norm I think) for any pruning. I also don’t think I’ll go that heavy on the first prune. Hoping to achieve a balance of foliage to aid new root development. I suspect the heat you mentioned is kicking it’s butt as well. We had a couple days in the 90’s and a couple of my azalea suffered but they are slowly coming back. It’s all a learning experience. I don’t think all hope is lost, it may just need some solid recovery time. I should also mention that I did just stay at a holiday inn express last night 🤪
 

Glaucus

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It looks like a plant that was responding to the hard pruning by pushing growth, then was in the sun with the pot exposed to sunlight, and then it got too dry for just a while.
However, you state this was not the case. What about water draining away through the kanuma, but not penetrating the actual root ball?
 

Deep Sea Diver

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Hmm…. It is pretty hard to overwater the mix you are using. But it can be done if one steps away from normal watering practices for a long stretch of time.

Azaleas do need exposure to the sun to photosynthesize. Just not too much when the temps are high. Ideally at high heat morning filtered sun and mostly shaded the rest of the afternoon. Lower photosynthesis, lower transpiration… the plant just pokes along until conditions improve.

So during times of high heat azaleas tend to slow down growth. They do not need as much water. So ease off the watering water a lot if the media isn’t drying out.

(Our azaleas didn’t need much watering during the BigHeat Dome 110F and up for five days.)

Misting is ok if the foliage dries off before the sun goes down… otherwise it is possible to get leaf fungal infection.

One other thing to look out for when the temps are high and it’s dry out… mites. Tiny, hard to see and one needs a Mitacide to knock these down. I’ve seen multiple products used. Acephate, Imicloprid, Avid, Bonide Mite x…etc. check the label.

Can you please shoot a photo or two of the overall foliage?

Best
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Deep Sea Diver

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…and like @yashu was saying…. as the foliage was affected and the roots… this will definately affect the water needs! Usually takes about a month to six weeks of TLC after a solid cut back or root wash… and about two weeks after wiring

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Kullas

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…and like @yashu was saying…. as the foliage was affected and the roots… this will definately affect the water needs! Usually takes about a month to six weeks of TLC after a solid cut back or root wash… and about two weeks after wiring

cheers
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I have had 2 different azaleas that after 2 weeks I was having to take the wire off. It was bitting in and the shape was set no rewire needed
 

Deep Sea Diver

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Biting in depends on the azaleas growth rate. This is mostly temperature dependent. So the TLC time wil vary according to the speed the cells take to reform to the new shape.

We put wire on multiple azaleas over two months ago here in the Puget Sound area where it has been unseasonably chilly. It’s been in the 40’s at night and has barely started to get in the 60’s. The wire is finally biting in on some of the fine branching.

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Kullas

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Makes sense we have been between 65 and 90 for a bit now. And thanks for the recommendation on the books I have learn quit a bit.
Biting in depends on the azaleas growth rate. This is mostly temperature dependent. So the TLC time wil vary according to the speed the cells take to reform to the new shape.

We put wire on multiple azaleas over two months ago here in the Puget Sound area where it has been unseasonably chilly. It’s been in the 40’s at night and has barely started to get in the 60’s. The wire is finally biting in on some of the fine branching.

Best
DSD sends
 

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