Azalea style direction

JudyB

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So sorry to hear of your son's passing. It's good that you have things to carry on with that were his.
 

Carol 83

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Hi Judy, i agree. I have not paid any attention to the pot while under construction. The tree originated from an azalea brought over to Canada by a Japanese gardener and then acquired by my son. When he became ill and passed away the tree came to me. By that time it had grown out and up over four feet tall with no branches lower down. I have been reducing it gradually since 2013. That was the only pot it would fit in when i moved it home.
So sorry to hear about your son. Nothing harder than losing a child. Cherish that tree!
 

Adair M

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Frank, getting back to the tree...

How long have theguy wires been in place? Azalea, once lignified really won’t bend.

They will backbud, profusely, if stimulated to do so.

And branching can be developed rather quickly, as they are pretty fast growers.

So, what I’m trying to say is they are better grown to shape and wired when the new shoots are young and soft like maples, rather than wired and bent like conifers.

If you don’t have branches where you want them, a heavy cutback all over will stimulate backbudding all over the tree. Then you pick and choose what you want. After you do this, the tree will send out “suckers” from all over, even the trunk, for a couple years. By rubbing off the unwanted new buds, the tree will settle in to mainly growing in the branches you pick, and the back budding will stop. But that takes a couple years!

You see, azalea are really multitrunked shrubs. They naturally tend to want to produce lots of smaller trunks, not one single one. So, a hard cutback allows the azalea to produce new shoots everywhere to create leaf surface area. Without doing a cutback, the azalea will tend to stay in “maintenance mode” and just try to extend and maintain its existing canopy, and not backbud.
 

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Frank, getting back to the tree...

How long have theguy wires been in place? Azalea, once lignified really won’t bend.

They will backbud, profusely, if stimulated to do so.

And branching can be developed rather quickly, as they are pretty fast growers.

So, what I’m trying to say is they are better grown to shape and wired when the new shoots are young and soft like maples, rather than wired and bent like conifers.

If you don’t have branches where you want them, a heavy cutback all over will stimulate backbudding all over the tree. Then you pick and choose what you want. After you do this, the tree will send out “suckers” from all over, even the trunk, for a couple years. By rubbing off the unwanted new buds, the tree will settle in to mainly growing in the branches you pick, and the back budding will stop. But that takes a couple years!

You see, azalea are really multitrunked shrubs. They naturally tend to want to produce lots of smaller trunks, not one single one. So, a hard cutback allows the azalea to produce new shoots everywhere to create leaf surface area. Without doing a cutback, the azalea will tend to stay in “maintenance mode” and just try to extend and maintain its existing canopy, and not backbud.
I agree with the information you have provided. That is my understanding as well. It also follows all the handout notes and discussions at Boon's i have taken part in.
Having said that, i love to stretch the boundaries. Ross took pictures of some bending, wireing taking place in japan of Azalea that tweaked my interest. I believe it was at T. Kawabe's .
The bend was performed over a year ago with some breakage involved. I am hoping that scar tissue may hold a position change. I used a jack after wrapping and wiring. Slowly with rest periods over a period of three days. I was not expecting it to move as much as it did. After all we have always been told its not done, doesn't work. Perhaps when i remove the wire it will spring right back. And i will have to admit defeat and move on.
The only alternative to my experiment was to cut the top off due to the terrible shape.
What i have been doing is slower cutback and reduction which likely accounts for the limited back budding.
Yesterday, i completed a repot and had to remove a hard central core with a lot of compacted soil, deteriorated roots etc. I did change the pot to a smaller one with a more neutral look. When i go out to the workshop this morning i will loosen the guy wires to see what happens and send a picture of the result with the guy wire loose.
 

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Sell it to someone with a variegated ficus!

I think that might be the only balance to the feet!

Sorce
That's a thought, i have a variegated Trident, however it is only a two inch base currently. The pot is 19 inches by 11 inches and 3 1/2 inches deep. So if i live to 90, i could conceivably make use of it;).
 

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I agree with the information you have provided. That is my understanding as well. It also follows all the handout notes and discussions at Boon's i have taken part in.
Having said that, i love to stretch the boundaries. Ross took pictures of some bending, wireing taking place in japan of Azalea that tweaked my interest. I believe it was at T. Kawabe's .
The bend was performed over a year ago with some breakage involved. I am hoping that scar tissue may hold a position change. I used a jack after wrapping and wiring. Slowly with rest periods over a period of three days. I was not expecting it to move as much as it did. After all we have always been told its not done, doesn't work. Perhaps when i remove the wire it will spring right back. And i will have to admit defeat and move on.
The only alternative to my experiment was to cut the top off due to the terrible shape.
What i have been doing is slower cutback and reduction which likely accounts for the limited back budding.
Yesterday, i completed a repot and had to remove a hard central core with a lot of compacted soil, deteriorated roots etc. I did change the pot to a smaller one with a more neutral look. When i go out to the workshop this morning i will loosen the guy wires to see what happens and send a picture of the result with the guy wire loose.
Well the results are in! The Upper portion of the trunk moved back 3/8 inch. I was very satisfied with that result and removed the wire and wrap. Pictures below for reference. The measuring tape was positioned to match the branch above in the beginning. It is easy to guage the differrence. Oh and as everyone can see the white feet are gone.
 

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Adair M

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Well the results are in! The Upper portion of the trunk moved back 3/8 inch. I was very satisfied with that result and removed the wire and wrap. Pictures below for reference. The measuring tape was positioned to match the branch above in the beginning. It is easy to guage the differrence. Oh and as everyone can see the white feet are gone.
Well, I can’t really what’s happening with all that. Bit of you’re happy, that’s good.

I was suggesting that if you want new branches where you don’t have any, a hard cut back might help.

before:

CBDBDF04-0EF7-4E89-8D3F-57F5AF920369.jpeg

After:

2EC86AE4-6C1D-49A9-B33F-5296EE509866.jpeg

Five months later:

DCAEE564-408F-4F98-938C-C26515654218.jpeg

New sub-branches and new branches on trunk.
 

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New front as well? This tree really has something going on that I dig.
Possibly, but the picture was taken from that side to show the branch movement after the wire came off. Here is the original side. the new pot is 15 inches. the old one was 19.
 

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Well, I can’t really what’s happening with all that. Bit of you’re happy, that’s good.

I was suggesting that if you want new branches where you don’t have any, a hard cut back might help.

before:

View attachment 180229

After:

View attachment 180231

Five months later:

View attachment 180230

New sub-branches and new branches on trunk.
As i have only one low branch at the moment? My trunk is much older? Not sure how your example applies. Perhaps i am missing something?
Well, I can’t really what’s happening with all that. Bit of you’re happy, that’s good.

I was suggesting that if you want new branches where you don’t have any, a hard cut back might help.

before:

View attachment 180229

After:

View attachment 180231

Five months later:

View attachment 180230

New sub-branches and new branches on trunk.
Impressive, really helps to have a lot of low branches to work with. Does it also work if you top the tree when it has one low branch?
 

Adair M

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As i have only one low branch at the moment? My trunk is much older? Not sure how your example applies. Perhaps i am missing something?

Impressive, really helps to have a lot of low branches to work with. Does it also work if you top the tree when it has one low branch?
Yes, you will get new buds all over. Even the old bottom of the trunk. Now, you will have to watch for them, and rub them off if you don’t want them.

Azalea bark is quite thin. So, unlike heavy barked trees like pines, they will back bud on old branches and trunks. You might want to do a light scrub of the old trunk and branches to remove any thicker micro plates of bark. This will enhance the backbudding potential.

Aside: back in the day, that was one of the techniques we used to employ to encourage back budding... brushes the tops of branches lightly with a wire brush where we wanted back budding. It was thought that helping the sun get to the cambium might help stimulate backbudding. If my ADHD memory serves, it was reasonably effective. Also, wiring branches out creates micro tears in the bark and cambium, allows sun in. And that promotes backbudding as well.

Back on topic...

So, removing existing foliage stresses the tree, and it tries to replace its missing solar panels. It doesn’t care where they are, it just tries to bud back out. Obviously, younger wood will bud out easier than old wood, so I expect most of your back budding would be up in the canopy, but I would expect there will be significant new branching coming directly off the trunk.

There is always the risk of a branch dying off if you cut it off too short. You will see on my example many trees with 1 to 2 inch stubs. That stub will keep a waterline active down to the roots. If you REALLY want to make sure a branch doesn’t die off, leave a couple leaves on it.

John Geangle (@johng )has some good azalea cut-back videos on You Tube.
 

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Yes, you will get new buds all over. Even the old bottom of the trunk. Now, you will have to watch for them, and rub them off if you don’t want them.

Azalea bark is quite thin. So, unlike heavy barked trees like pines, they will back bud on old branches and trunks. You might want to do a light scrub of the old trunk and branches to remove any thicker micro plates of bark. This will enhance the backbudding potential.

Aside: back in the day, that was one of the techniques we used to employ to encourage back budding... brushes the tops of branches lightly with a wire brush where we wanted back budding. It was thought that helping the sun get to the cambium might help stimulate backbudding. If my ADHD memory serves, it was reasonably effective. Also, wiring branches out creates micro tears in the bark and cambium, allows sun in. And that promotes backbudding as well.

Back on topic...

So, removing existing foliage stresses the tree, and it tries to replace its missing solar panels. It doesn’t care where they are, it just tries to bud back out. Obviously, younger wood will bud out easier than old wood, so I expect most of your back budding would be up in the canopy, but I would expect there will be significant new branching coming directly off the trunk.

There is always the risk of a branch dying off if you cut it off too short. You will see on my example many trees with 1 to 2 inch stubs. That stub will keep a waterline active down to the roots. If you REALLY want to make sure a branch doesn’t die off, leave a couple leaves on it.

John Geangle (@johng )has some good azalea cut-back videos on You Tube.
Thanks Adair
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Thanks Adair
Bear in mind there is a significant difference in the energy levels of a tree recently dug out of the field and one that has been in a bonsai pot for many years. There is no way I would reduce my established azalea Bonsai to a trunk without a lot of “bulking up” first; like a few years in the ground. I don’t think that’s what this tree needs.

However, one of the nuggets I received from Peter Warren is that azaleas do get old and their vascular systems begin to constrict our in the tips of shoots, so pruning back hard every few years renews the branches and keeps the tree “young” longer.
 

Adair M

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Bear in mind there is a significant difference in the energy levels of a tree recently dug out of the field and one that has been in a bonsai pot for many years. There is no way I would reduce my established azalea Bonsai to a trunk without a lot of “bulking up” first; like a few years in the ground. I don’t think that’s what this tree needs.

However, one of the nuggets I received from Peter Warren is that azaleas do get old and their vascular systems begin to constrict our in the tips of shoots, so pruning back hard every few years renews the branches and keeps the tree “young” longer.
I wouldn’t reduce it to a trunk either! I posted my tree to show how a hard cutback works. Frank can do a “hard cutback”, on his tree and still leave the main keeper branches largely intact. Just most of the foliage is removed.

For reference, my azalea was (is) an imported tree from Japan, and the Before picture was taken a month or so after it was released from quarantine. Nothing except watering had been done to the tree for two years. It was in straight Kanuma with a generous layer of spaghnum moss laying on top.
 

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