Azalea leaves

Ross

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I bought my first azalea at my club auction and expected it to stay green through the winter. However, when our first cold front came through and temps dropped into the lower 40's, the leaves began changing color. I didn't expect it but it looks nice. My parents have had potted Azaleas in their backyard for years with no more winter protection than a sheet thrown over top. I am just down the street and figured mine would do well with similar protection. My question is, will this azalea lose its leaves this winter?
 

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Martin Sweeney

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Ross,

You asked "My question is, will this azalea lose its leaves this winter?"

It is hard to say without more information. Where do you live? As an example, I planted a "Mother's Day" azalea in my mother's yard in Connecticut. It looses it's leaves there, but the same variety holds it's leaves through the winter in pots here in Charlotte, NC.

However, my guess is that this plant will hold it's leaves through the winter with appropriate winter protection for evergreens in your area. A severe winter might knock them off.

A sheet over the top is probably not enough protection for an azalea in a bonsai pot. Soil volume makes a big difference in how much protection a plant needs, so check with other club members in your area for their azalea wintering tips.

Leaf color change is not that unusual for azaleas in my experience. Typically, red and pink flowering azaleas tend to show red leaf color during the winter. White flowering varieties tend to stay greener during the winter. Some of the leaves will green back up in spring, some will fall off come spring, but if the tree is healthy, this shouldn't be a big deal.

Good luck with it.
Regards,
Martin
 

Tachigi

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Ross, What it boils down to is your azalea deciduous or evergreen. I have both varieties and enjoy green through the winter. As well as leaf change and drop on the deciduous type. A general rule of thumb is if the leaf is hairy like an old mans earlobe then its a deciduous and will loose its leaves. Sorry for the bad analogy, outside of being true. It was the first thing that popped to mind.

As Martin alluded to..a sheet ain't going to cut it. Seek better protection for your azalea.
 

Ross

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A general rule of thumb is if the leaf is hairy like an old mans earlobe then its a deciduous and will loose its leaves.


Good analogy Tom, it works for me. I'm sorry about the lack of info, I live in Dallas and the weather here is notoriously unpredictable. Although we dropped into the 40's in late September, I heard it forecast that we could see 80 again by this weekend. I have two azaleas now, and I was confused because one of them is changing color and the other (in more light) is still completely green and just started to open a flower. It is still in its nursery pot and was labeled "higasa azalea" when I bought it. I have read that the flowers will be very large on a higasa so I will temper my expectations for that one. Both types seem to have "hairy" leaves.

I'm glad that you know what I'm talking about Martin and answered so quickly. This will be my first "bonsai winter" and I hate to say I'm a bit anxious. If you guys don't mind I'll post some of my noob trees for your input. I don't mind harsh criticism, in fact it is why I like this forum sometimes. You guys are so funny going back and forth that I don't mind reading through it to pick out the good stuff! Thanks again.

Ross
 

Bill S

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Comes down to whether or not it's a "japanese" variety, they are ( as I have been told often)a little less hardy than the typical garden variety and should be kept above freezing. So depending on your location you may need special winter quarters to keep it around 35 - 37 degrees F.. If it's a garden variety then a cold frame will do.

I agree with the others though the color change is ok.
 

Martin Sweeney

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Ross,

Higasa azalea is a Satsuki type azalea, and as such should be evergreen in Dallas. The one in the picture you posted does not appear to be a deciduous azalea, it looks like a Kurume type azalea to me. This should also be evergreen in your area, even is the green in evergreen ain't so green, if you know what I mean.

There are so many individual varieties of azalea out there, it is impossible to know which you have from the picture, or even if I am correct in my guess that it is a Kurume type. If you can bring the plant to a azalea specialist nursery, they may be able to identify it. Otherwise, bloom time, bloom size and color can narrow it down a bit. Kurume type azalea as a group tend to bloom earlier than Satsuki type azaleas, and have smaller blooms.

I like the tree in the photo, and will be interested in seeing how it progresses under your care.

Regards,
Martin
 
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imholte

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From the pictures it looks like just the old leaves are turning color whereas the new leaves are still green. I think it is just the old leaves dying and falling off, this is what mine do at this time of year.
 

Zappa

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Ross, What it boils down to is your azalea deciduous or evergreen. I have both varieties and enjoy green through the winter. As well as leaf change and drop on the deciduous type. A general rule of thumb is if the leaf is hairy like an old mans earlobe then its a deciduous and will loose its leaves. Sorry for the bad analogy, outside of being true. It was the first thing that popped to mind.

As Martin alluded to..a sheet ain't going to cut it. Seek better protection for your azalea.



:( I just reached up and realized my earlobe is hairy :(
 

Zappa

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oh gosh....hasnt really got cold here yet....I guess I should probably keep em indoors ;)
 

Ross

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Leaf color change is not that unusual for azaleas in my experience. Typically, red and pink flowering azaleas tend to show red leaf color during the winter. White flowering varieties tend to stay greener during the winter. Some of the leaves will green back up in spring, some will fall off come spring, but if the tree is healthy, this shouldn't be a big deal.

Good luck with it.
Regards,
Martin

Well spring is here and Martin predicted it, the red leaves stayed on for the winter and then most fell off. Now there is a single pink flower open, and it looks like about 50 more soon to follow. This is my first spring with an azalea, and I would like to see this one covered in flowers, but (ideally for the plant), should I remove some or all of the flower buds to direct that energy elsewhere?
 

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Ross

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Is everyone too busy answering tree trivia and giving display critiques to help me out?
 

grog

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Intentionally or not, that was a bit snippy. Considering it's repotting time for many of the people on here I imagine they're busy working on their trees. Not trying to be the etiquette Nazi so take it for what it's worth, just think about how your posts will be received.

As to your azalea you're correct in thinking it will redirect energy back to the tree by removing the flower buds. I'm not sure it will help a whole lot since the buds have already formed and are starting to open but it should still save your tree from expending energy on opening and maintaining the flowers.

Bear in mind that's just what I've read, my hands on experience is limited. As a matter of fact my experience contradicts this information but I'd still go with the general consensus.
 

Ross

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Thanks Grog,

That's the kinda answer I was hoping for, and that's also what I have read. I just don't know if snipping them off now in the current stage is beneficial, or have they already sucked so much energy I might as well see the display. You're definitely right, I was feeling a bit snippy this morning so I apologize for that and hope that everyone realizes it was a bit tongue in cheek. Everyone says they want to see more trees, and a couple tree threads with actual members' tree pics have gotten no love recently (the Hornbeam thread also needed a little bump).
 

Bill S

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Ross I agree with grogs assesment of the flowering. I have a question for you now - What kind of direction do you want to take this tree? I ask because it's starting to get leggy, I would almost suggest a chop above the first branch for a start over so to speak. But I want to see what your thoughts are first.
 

Ross

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I really don't know Bill. I bought this one at my club auction this fall and haven't touched it since. In Bonsai Techniques for Satsuki by John Naka, it says that "cutting the center of the branch during the fall will cause it to die back." (pg. 46) For that reason I have been nervous to touch it until it showed new spring growth. The flowers buds began to expand a couple weeks ago and have started to open. I guess the plan was (and is) to see it in bloom, prune and repot after the flowers have faded, and keep it compact until I decide on how to style it. I was going to use a soil mix of 30% Turface, 30% peat, 20% crushed lava, 20% pine bark chips, and some perlite mixed in on the bottom. This is my first Azalea so any suggestions are helpful.
 

Fred-4-u

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the plan was (and is) to see it in bloom, prune and repot after the flowers have fade

Great plan imho.
For the soil : I would use 100 % Kanuma, eventually mixed with a little spagnum moss, chopped in little parts.

Fred
 

Martin Sweeney

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Ross,

If this were my tree, I would enjoy this year's blooms. In the Charlotte area, on a healthy tree, if I was looking to increase the trees vegetative growth, I would remove all the blooms and ovaries as the blooms begin to fade (the show goes past it's prime) and start looking to eliminate the 3rd, 4th or even 5th new shoots that emerge below the ovaries while I am at it. Try to leave only 2 buds or shoots where you cut the blooms off. Azaleas produce whorled growth like pines, so eliminating some of the emerging whorled branches as you are removing the ovaries will direct the energy to the remaining shoots. Without ovaries, the tree will not waste energy on seed production. This will also increase the amount of vegetative growth you get, and help with more flower production for next year as well. If you want to decrease the number of flowers produced next year to continue to focus the tree on vegetative growth, do so this summer as the tree starts forming flower buds, rather than in the late winter/early spring after the energy has already been spent.

Be mindful that azalea are basal dominant; the strongest growth is at the base of the tree, and the weakest shoots are at the top of the tree. Keep more foliage on the top to keep it vigorous, you can cut the basal shoots back harder than on apical dominant plants like elm or maple.

I use 50% regular bonsai soil and 50% kanuma with my azaleas in the Charlotte area. Other bonsai folk around here use 100% kanuma and like it. They tend to have sunnier yards than mine. Some don't use kanuma at all. Stick with what you are using if it works for you.

Regards,
Martin
 

Ross

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Martin you are a saint. That was a lot of good information, thank you. I will try and post a picture in full bloom.
 

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