Azalea Troubles

Zaelthus

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Hi all, first post! Great group of knowledgeable people around here so I figured someone maybe able to help. I'm definitely a bonsai beginner, most of my stuff is in grow boxes or in the ground developing size, taper and movement. Here is an Azalea I dug up a few years ago from someone's garden and put into a grow box recently. One day when it is healthy day it will be chopped or airlayered, who knows it may never even becomes a bonsai. Right now my goal is just to restore its health.

When I transplanted it I essentially bare rooted it as the soil was probably 20 years old and very hard/compacted. It is planted in approx 75% turface with some compost and fir mulch (I added a top layer of mulch for moisture retention). Since potting it into the grow box (about a month and a half ago) it hasn't shown any improvement. Coincidentally I repotted one of its brothers (collected from same garden) at the same time into a 85% organic mix (compost, fir mulch, sand) and it is doing much better i.e. heavy budding, dark green leaves. It also seems that some of the new growth is malformed and has the appearance of a bulbous sickly clump rather than a leaf. I pull these off as I see them but today I noticed one of these malformations that was also moldy. The leaves seem yellowish, so I'm wondering if there is an iron or PH deficiency, perhaps related to the turface. I fertilize with Miracid one a week.




 

discusmike

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I'm no pro with azaleas,but your mix might be the problem,they like very acidic soil,all my stuff im growing out is in a mix of perlite and peat moss,ive tried other mixes,but they like the peat,i also believe kanuma is good,but exspensive.Im sure there are some azalea pros that could chime in and help.
 

Harunobu

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Maybe it's azalea leaf gall.

Yellow leaves means an iron deficiency, yes.


Personally I wouldn't put an azalea into that much turface. I would have a mix with more organic material. I use 1:1:1 peat/perlite/pine bark myself. But I don't know if that is the problem.
If ph is too high, the azalea can get an iron deficiency. Turface ph is supposed to be inert. I guess that doesn't quality as a low ph.

Same with miracid. I would only give a little slow release fertilizer. The compost and the pine bark decomposing should release enough nutrients. But I don't know if that is the problem.
I think it is possible that when the roots are exposed to a lot of fertilizer, they can't absord the iron. But then again, fertilizer should wash through 75% turface pretty fast, shouldn't it?

Sounds like the thing to try is to repot it with more organic material. Generally people recommend peat over compost. I would imagine compost also has a low ph, but not as low as peat. But I have seen people mention it is too close to 7. If you can, try to get coarse peat. Well draining is what you want too.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Those are the spent flowers and ovary. Your tree looks fine; don't panic! Some kurume varieties are a little yellower than others...
 

discusmike

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I like your azalea,it should show some promise a few years down the road.
 

Zaelthus

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Maybe it's azalea leaf gall.

.

Hi Harunobu, I looked up Azalea leaf gall and that's exactly what it looks like. I guess I will keep clipping the malformed growth and reduce watering a bit.
 
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