Deciduous Azalea Techniques

Leo in N E Illinois

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I have admired deciduous azalea for years. Their growth pattern of short then long internodes is very different from the Satsuki and Kurume.

I am particularly interested in the 'Northern Lights' series of winter hardy azalea hybrids.

Please post your experiences here. What works, what doesn't work.

And please, refrain from responding if you are not actually growing a deciduous azalea. No "internet or top of your hat" speculation. If you have not grown a Northern Lights or Exbury or species deciduous azalea from North America sit back and watch. This means I will watch and listen. Where possible, photos would help.
 

0soyoung

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I have several different varieties of deciduous azalea. Just like all evergreen ones, the best time to prune them is right after blooming. Just like rhodies, one can see 'eyes' on bare stems which are sites of latent buds, and cut back to one of them. Annoyingly often, though, cutting off all green results in a dead branch. It is safer to cut back to a leaf; then after a few weeks, cut back to a new bud when it shows up on the woody stem.
 

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Here is my Gibraltar acquired only this May. I've done pretty well with my other azalea so far. Probably because they are so forgiving.
This is a pic from today and also as received and at repotting.
I'm seeing larger leaves but not extremely long internodes.
I've left it untouched since repotting in May. Curious how late I could trim again without sacrificing the orange flowers. I like Leo's statement about if I didn't want flowers, I'd grow boxwoods. (I have those too)
Obviously I have little experience to share here but, hope to show some progress in the future.
 

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shinmai

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Interesting and timely for you to bring this up.
I have Northern Lights, Lemon Lights, and Klondike that I cut back and potted last year. When we hit 27 below in January, the fellow tending to my greenhouse while I was in Texas waited too long to let me know that the temperature in the greenhouse was down to 20 degrees. I lost numerous small azaleas in small pots, and several others [including my two mature satsuki] did not bloom, simply had dead, brown flower buds. Interestingly, some nevertheless produced multiple new shoots at the site of the stunted blossom. This was especially true with 'Rosebud' and 'Karen'. The aforementioned three did not bloom in spring, and have been producing ample, healthy foliage. One or two appear to be setting flower buds, and I have read that the 'Lights' will frequently re-bloom in fall.
More to the point relative to your post, I have just recently acquired Mandarin Lights, Northern, and Tri-lights, along with Gerard's Pleasant White, and after blooming I cut them back to small trunks. I'm starting to see a nice healthy push of new growth and budding. I'll keep you appraised of my progress.
 

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Had I not known this was a deciduous azalea...
I'd like to hear opinions on removing spent leaves. I always felt better to let nature prune in winter. Is there a drawback to leaving them on?
 

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TN_Jim

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Having seen them around they seem ready to loose their leaves almost too easy.

Could be a number of reasons why. 3 gallon soil from where they came from perhaps. Think we’re doing something wrong though -I wonder if the ones we have at work didn’t reach low enough temperatures or too much sun. They bloomed okay then faltered throughout the growing season regarding leaf development.

This is outside full sun annually, protection in unheated greenhouse throughout winter.

From bases I can see why they could make good bonsai if larger individuals.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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I meant to post my entry into this topic.
Azalea 'White Lights'
purchased on sale from Menard's in October 2019.

I'll wait until later in winter to repot. I'm debating whether I will reduce it to a single trunk or not.
IMG_20191026_104917153.jpg

IMG_20191026_104923012.jpg

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IMG_20191026_104940250_BURST000_COVER_TOP.jpg
 

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I'm still trying to decide about that. I have 4 trunks coming out of a pretty nice little trunk.
I cut it back only to green leaves after flowering and got rewarded with several new buds further down the trunks. I plan to shorten it further after flowering. this spring. I can't decide which trunk(s) to remove so I've left them all for now. I need to make up my mind as I want to get the healing process underway this year.
 

MorddexxBonsai

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Purchased this Northern "Hi-Lights from online orchards through amazon for the contest. Throwing it in here and will update when it gets warmer and I start working on it. May repot in the next few weeks.
20200117_100849.jpg20200122_125731.jpg
 

Forsoothe!

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I can't believe that anyone can overcome the long internodes. Show me!
 

0soyoung

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I can't believe that anyone can overcome the long internodes. Show me!
Obviously one cannot. But there are latent buds (eyes) along the stems that you see in this pic. Branches emanate from a whirl and terminate in a flower bud - there are eyes in between, say 3, maybe 6, maybe more. The season's shoot has many eyes; one must to look closely to see them. Prune like I described and, with some luck, branch lengths can be reduced to the minimum internode length that is much shorter than a season's shoot length.
 

0soyoung

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My spirit is from Missouri...
Don't be so lazy.
Get one, look, and test what you've been told.


That is, if you really have an interest.
On the other hand, if you only want to argue, carry on and I'll go participate in other discussions. ;)
 
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Leo in N E Illinois

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@Forsoothe! and @0soyoung
Showing what can be done is the point of this thread. Read first post. If you do not have a deciduous azalea you are working on, refrain from posting in this thread. The goal is to get real experience posted in this thread, not out of our hats discussion. Start your own thread if you want to argue theory. This thread is for actual real experience with the North American native azaleas and their hybrids.
 

Forsoothe!

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Theory, my ass. I invite you to go straight to Hell. You don't own or control thought or thoughtful commentary. Here in 2020, after 400 years of Japanese bonsai you should be able to show that a species is a dead horse, or not. My intent was to have someone show that it can be done so that the how to's and wherefore's could be discussed. If that's too much for you to handle, tough. Go pound sand.
 

shinmai

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Theory, my ass. I invite you to go straight to Hell. You don't own or control thought or thoughtful commentary. Here in 2020, after 400 years of Japanese bonsai you should be able to show that a species is a dead horse, or not. My intent was to have someone show that it can be done so that the how to's and wherefore's could be discussed. If that's too much for you to handle, tough. Go pound sand.
If there's one guy to whom you really shouldn't mouth off that way, it's Leo. I really hope you were shitfaced when you typed that--it would at least be an excuse.
 

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