Best time to Harvest Azelea?

ml_work

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I stopped and ask a total stranger about their Azaleas today and ask to dig up a few. They told me were some were at the edge of the woods that I could get. I went to take a look, most were small trunk almost vine like about 1/4 to 1/2 inch. It seemed they had grown out from the woods to get sun. I did see one with a larger limb but could not see the trunk as it was covered without easy access. I would like to go back next weekend and harvest a few while the "OK" is still fresh on the owners mind. Will they survive the move now or should I wait until winter?

Thanks,
Michael
 

Bill S

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Typically you repot etc after flowers, but in this case you don't want flowers. With the winter you had down there this year and things behind so to speak, I think you should be OK. Collect it, and remove all the flower buds.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Definitely ok to collect now. Bare root and cut back to good trunk lines if you're potting them.

Bare-rooting will also give you a chance to clean up the roots. They "stool", which means you will have roots growing into the ground from various points along the trunk, and you'll want to address that when you collect them; coming out of the ground, they should recover quickly.

Azaleas are VERY tough around here, you must really apply yourself to kill one.
 

ml_work

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Thanks Bill and Brain, I did some reading after I had posted this and it seem to give the go ahead for digging now also. I was thinking of keeping the roots and as much soil as possible, putting them into large pots. Brain if you think it best to bare root, that is the way I will go. I will put them into large pots to grow for some time, I can tell they will have to start new limbs lower on the trunk.
Thanks,
Michael
 

Bill S

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I'd do as Brian suggested, pot it up without dealing with the roots will only add time to your project.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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You really don't want any field soil in a pot; it behaves more like concrete, and you will definitely lose time if you don't do the root work now, bare-root, and get them into some decent, well-draining soil.

Here is what my last round of collected azaleas looked like just before I potted them up last spring...they're all blooming now!

It actually speeds up the process if you ONLY start with what you can use down the road.
 

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ml_work

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Brian Thanks for the pictures, I did not realize there had been any more replies to this post.

I went today to dig up some of the azalea, as I had said most were like vines. They were running across the ground most everywhere. I did dig at the points they had roots, but nothing was deep. The pictures I have uploaded are the largest, one looks dead but had blooms on it. They were not deep, almost on top of the soil. After seeing how they were just rooting from the vine/limb, I got some cutting to try and start. Should I put them in water or soil? As for the 2 large ones, what is the best plan for them? I had to leave one large stump that had 2 trunks and lots of flowers. Could not get it to move at all, cut some of the root and will go back later or in the winter.

Thanks for any ideas
Michael
 

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Brian Van Fleet

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Hi Michael,
I think you're right on the "hopeful" azalea. As long as you've still kept everything you show, it will probably live. Before you pot it, cut the trunk down to about what you can see in the photo. We discussed soil via PM; I think potting soil may rot the roots, you would have better luck using some bark and aggregate. Understood that not all items are easily available; whatever you use, keep an eye on the moisture level and let it gain strength for a year or two without any intervention.

I think the 2nd one doesn't have enough roots to survive, but I suspect the first one will be good.

The first one definitely has potential!
 

ml_work

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Wellll.....hopeful may be Wishful now. I did cut the trunk back almost as short as what is showing in the picture. It is maybe 18" total, no limbs were on it, this went a long way before any growth of leaves or flowers. As for the rest...I cut the roots coming out of the side off even with the large "ball". I did not have anything it would fit in, and the few small roots you see were cut back some. The picture does not show the bottom that is in the grass. It is another inch or 2, that was what I was wondering about cutting in half to make it flat. I think I will leave it for now as it sounds I may have cut too much already. I will check on the soil we talked about and just slip it from existing pot into new with little disturbing as possible.
Thanks,
Michael
 

ml_work

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Second trip today, got the last one, biggest one. I think this will be my best one to work with, I know it is just a stump without any of the forum looked for, But it is old from the size. I will have to cut the bottom half off just to get it in a pot. I had cut the trunks last week, today I see it already has a couple place budding out. Any ideas on what to do with this are appreciated.

Thanks
Have A Great Day!

Michael
 

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Brian Van Fleet

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From the photo show, I would:
1. Use a stick and carefully remove all the soil
2. Use a hose and wash away all the soil that remains, so you can see what you're working with
3. You can saw the bottom, but definitely leave as many fine roots as you can. Use a saws-all or chainsaw. Saws-all is cleaner (no oil, cooler operation) if you have access.
4. Leave as many fine roots as you can!
5. Clean up the cuts so you don't have any splintered edges, above and below the soil. Trees won't heal over splintered edges and you'll get rot.
6. Work in soil to ensure good contact with roots.
7. Place it somewhere in the shade for a year, and try to keep the Azalea Lacebugs off it.

Keep us posted!
 

ml_work

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Cut and Potted

Brian, Thank you for the help! I did remove the dirt and then washed, to find a solid hard root. Your suggestion about the oil and smoke from the chain saw made sense. So I tried to cut with electric skill saw and hand saw. Just could not cut all the way through and ran out of daylight. Had to put it back in the soil mound and cover it for the night, I know it was not the best thing but all I could do. I did cut it today with a chain saw and put in some good soil, covering everything up to the trunks. The cut remove more of the running roots than I wanted to. but I think it would have been too large if I left them. The first picture shows were I had tried to cut it yesterday.
Thanks for all your help!
Time will tell
Michael
 

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