Azalea starting to look a bit rough....

Chub

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Starting to get some leaves looking like the ones in the picture. Was potted into a bonsai mix mid May and fed on June 1st with a basic Miracle -Gro all purpose food. Going to switch to an azalea food for July 1st. Gets water roughly every couple days. Any ideas?
 

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Dav4

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It's hard to tell from the photos. Insect damage is a possibility- lacewing damage, maybe. It could also be that you aren't fertilizing enough.
 

Chub

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Should I fertilize every two weeks? The only insects I've seen hanging around it lately are lady bugs and lady bug larvea, actually my yard is quite popular with them this year. I'm full of them.
 

Vance Wood

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Azaleas are the most acid loving plant you are likely to run into in bonsai. It is possible that your tree's soil is not acidic enough. They like somewhere around 4.0 PH.
 

Chub

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Azaleas are the most acid loving plant you are likely to run into in bonsai. It is possible that your tree's soil is not acidic enough. They like somewhere around 4.0 PH.
I'll switch fertilizer to Muracid then. Just wasn't sure if I shoud use it in a container plant.
 

Vance Wood

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I'll switch fertilizer to Muracid then. Just wasn't sure if I shoud use it in a container plant.
You mean Miracid? I've used Miracid for all sorts of thing for years with no ill effects.
 

Vance Wood

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Yea I meant miracid. Now how often?
I didn't mean to sound confrontational about the product. You mentioned Muracid which one could take for Muriatic acid which you do not want to use on anything but your drive way, As to Miracid, use it once a week. With the soils and watering schedules it leeches out pretty quick.
 

Harunobu

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I can't see much. Azalea don't need a lot of fertilizer. Organic material decomposion often gives off enough nutrients.

Some of the small spots do look like something caused by an insect or a disease. But I think it's going to be hard to prevent everything that will make your azalea not look perfectly pristine.
 

Bill S

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Chub, like Vance said go every week, with the Bonsai soil, and all the rain the east coast has had,it's most likely hungry, miracid works well, unless you can find some of the humates that have been talked of (gro power).

Might have some critters munching, use the soap and alchol mix and keep and eye out.

H our bonsai "soil" is like aquarium gravel in consistancy, anything has a tendency to wash right thru, not giving the tree time to use it, so more applications are needed.
 

Harunobu

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Well if your soil doesn't have organic material, it's different. I hear the best potting soil is 1 part coarse peat, 1 part perlite and 1 part shredded pine bark. The peat won't have nutrients, but the pine bark will release them in a good amount for the azalea to absorb.
Thix mix is really fast draining as is nessecary for bonsai but also for all potted azalea, bonsai or not. If they stay in 100% peat, they will die eventually eventhough most nurseries grow and supply them in 100% peat.

The Japanese use kanuma for their potted azalea and they can because it's so humid there and they use it because it's a local dirt cheap product. Perlite and kanuma are a bit similar, only that kanuma is naturally acidic and perlite is neutral. That's why you can't do 2 parts perlite and 1 part bark but you can do 100% kanuma.
If they used 2 part fine peat and 1 part gravel/vermiculite/perlite/kanuma/akadama that will be very bad in their rainy season which has been particulary intense this year so far.

Miracid is a good azalea fertlizer, I heard. I don't know if it is slow releasing or liquid. I think adding fertlizer in right quantities and at the right time can increase growth rate, but if you give too much it can cause fertilizer burn.

Underfertiling won't kill an azalea and you will know it before it does damage because you will see the new leaves be yellow because of chlorosis.

Soil needs to be acidic. If isn't this can cause problems including chlorisis despite there being enough minerals. Now soil can also be too acidic, but it needs to be very acidic for it to be too acidic for azalea.
Many plants will have problems in pure peat because of pH being too low. But azaleas like that pH.
 

Chub

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Chub, like Vance said go every week, with the Bonsai soil, and all the rain the east coast has had,it's most likely hungry, miracid works well, unless you can find some of the humates that have been talked of (gro power).

H our bonsai "soil" is like aquarium gravel in consistancy, anything has a tendency to wash right thru, not giving the tree time to use it, so more applications are needed.
Bill.....Does weekly feeding go for all bonsai?
 

Bill S

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I do unless it is in something dirty, the typical bonsai mix lets it wash out quickly. It can depend on the stage of the tree, and seasons, some get really into the science of it all. I have seen enough of the names who don't get into 0-10-22 now, or 56-8-17 then, the holy grail of ruffling bonsai feathers was when Walter said get what ever is on sale and use it all year.

For some this is ok, is it necessary, no not IMHO, you may be able to optimize some growing options by doing this, but is beyond most of us, for lack of understanding, and equipment to check things with.

Might want to do 1/2 strength every week with seaweed, or kelp based every other to complement the chemical ferts.
 

Chub

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Just picked up the Miracle Gro Azalea/Rhodedendron food. Did it full strength for "outdoor plants". I'll see how she goes. While on the topic, when I was at Lowes getting it, I noticed a different brand of this type of fertilizer. The numbers were different. The Miracle gro is 30-10-10 the other "Ultra Green" was 10-5-4. Is that a big difference?

"the holy grail of ruffling bonsai feathers was when Walter said get what ever is on sale and use it all year."

LOL....It's the same in a lot hobbies. One of my other things is smoked BBQ. Some guys make it more complicated than it needs to be. "Take it out and foil it, flip it, mop it.. etc." Me, I just throw it in and let it do it's thing all day and everyone loves it. Keep it simple is usually the best solution for most things............
 
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jk_lewis

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The Miracle gro is 30-10-10 the other "Ultra Green" was 10-5-4. Is that a big difference?
No. And Walter is 100% correct. Your trees don't care what their plant food costs.
 

Harunobu

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The exact NPK ratio of the minerals a plant uses isn't something obvious to figure out.

I think it matters more in what stage a plant is than what species it is. In general more balanced ratios are probably preferred.

I think the Japanese use seed based oil cakes. Like rapeseed, cotton seed or naam seed. Probably all very similar.

I have looked at different NPK ratios that azalea and rhododendron fertlizers have and at different numbers that are recommended. I have found little consensus.

I am sure you can see that 30-10-10 is the same ratio as 10-3.3-3.3 so it's close to 10-5-4.
 
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Vance Wood

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In the case of Azaleas it is important that your PH is very low, much lower than most plants except camellias can tolerate; somewhere around 4.0- 3.5. Because of this it is also important that you have trace elements that contain some form of Aluminum. With out this at this low PH it is impossible for the plant to absorb Nitrogen therefore it will turn yellow. You can also use a dose of Epsom Salts from time to time. This supplies the Aluminum.
 

Barry

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You may have more insect damage than you think. If you have so many lady bugs and lady bug larvae they are there because there is a good food supply otherwise they move on to the neighbors.
 

Chub

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You may have more insect damage than you think. If you have so many lady bugs and lady bug larvae they are there because there is a good food supply otherwise they move on to the neighbors.
Was thinking the same thing, they aren't there because they like the scenery...lol.
 
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