Lorax7 Azalea “Hershey’s Red” #1 progression

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Wondering about your design plan for this tree, especially for the trunk?

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Lorax7

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Wondering about your design plan for this tree, especially for the trunk?

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Right now, the only plan I have for it is to grow it out to thicken up the trunk. That’s why I have it in the pond basket. I’ll trim it just enough to ensure there are only two branches coming out of each bifurcation, to avoid creating inverse taper problems down the line, but leave it alone otherwise..
 
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Ok, thanks for the information. In that case, I'd move it out of the pond basket into something more substantial. A couple reasons for this.

Azalea roots are very fine and absolutely don't need root pruning to assist this. The roots also do not respond well be being heated up or dried out, which substantially slows the growth. Finally the roots are more sensitive to freezing temperatures then most. To get the best growth out of the azalea one should use a continuous walled pot, better still, a slightly oversized ceramic pot with good drainage. This move gives you both up and down side protection of the roots.

Pond baskets are for trees that don't possess the root structure of azaleas. I have seen azaleas survive and look good in pond baskets before, especially when these are oversized. However their best growth is stymied for the above causes.

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Lorax7

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Ok, thanks for the information. In that case, I'd move it out of the pond basket into something more substantial. A couple reasons for this.

Azalea roots are very fine and absolutely don't need root pruning to assist this. The roots also do not respond well be being heated up or dried out, which substantially slows the growth. Finally the roots are more sensitive to freezing temperatures then most. To get the best growth out of the azalea one should use a continuous walled pot, better still, a slightly oversized ceramic pot with good drainage. This move gives you both up and down side protection of the roots.

Pond baskets are for trees that don't possess the root structure of azaleas. I have seen azaleas survive and look good in pond baskets before, especially when these are oversized. However their best growth is stymied for the above causes.

Best of luck!
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There’s not much cause to worry about roots overheating in my yard. I don’t really have all-day sun anywhere in the yard. The main reason why I have it in a pond basket is so that I can set the basket on the ground and let the roots escape through the bottom into the ground to get some of the benefits of ground growing while maintaining the ability to easily pick it up and move it to the picnic table when I want to work on the branches. That’s my plan anyway. I haven’t gotten around to setting it on the ground to grow yet as I’ve been doing battle (chemical warfare via Roundup herbicide) with a rather invasive wild vine over in the area by the fence that I want to eventually make my bonsai grow-out area.
 

penumbra

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I use pond baskets for some of my small azaleas to great effect. I use the same azalea mix, not a bonsai mix, that I use on my azaleas in ceramic or plastic pots. I do over pot a bit in the baskets and all my azaleas are thriving. Just understanding and supplying what the plant needs is paramount. You can use anything, tin cans to tires, as long as it has drainage and a growing mix that works.
 

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I use pond baskets for some of my small azaleas to great effect. I use the same azalea mix, not a bonsai mix, that I use on my azaleas in ceramic or plastic pots. I do over pot a bit in the baskets and all my azaleas are thriving. Just understanding and supplying what the plant needs is paramount. You can use anything, tin cans to tires, as long as it has drainage and a growing mix that works.
I’m growing mine in 100% kanuma.
 
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@penumbra Yep an oversized basket would definitely help. I’m really interested in this experiment. Wondering if you did a side by side comparison?

@Lorax7 azaleas are slowly spreading shallow rooted, top 6” of soil… so a roots escape likely won’t be a real big boost, but putting the pond basket on the ground would solve some issues…. but maybe invite pests.

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Lorax7

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Eh, maybe I’ll switch to a different container whenever it needs repotting. For now, though, the drainage is excellent even though it’s been in this pond basket for ~2 years or so. The kanuma I planted it in was the large particle size stuff, as that was what I could find online at the time. It’s probably got at least another year or two before it breaks down enough to impact drainage enough to merit repotting.
 

penumbra

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@penumbra Yep an oversized basket would definitely help. I’m really interested in this experiment. Wondering if you did a side by side comparison?
I wouldn't say it is an experiment. It is just a choice of containers I have been using for a few years now.
I’m growing mine in 100% kanuma.
My experiment is growing side by side the same cultivars, half in pure kanuma and half in a mix with 2 x bark and 1 x pro mix (peat and perlite)
It's still early as they were summer planted but I think the grower's mix & bark is going to win out. Sure is a lot cheaper, but we will see after a full seasons growth.
 

Carol 83

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I wouldn't say it is an experiment. It is just a choice of containers I have been using for a few years now.

My experiment is growing side by side the same cultivars, half in pure kanuma and half in a mix with 2 x bark and 1 x pro mix (peat and perlite)
It's still early as they were summer planted but I think the grower's mix & bark is going to win out. Sure is a lot cheaper, but we will see after a full seasons growth.
I bought a couple of Momo No Haru from Bill V. and he advised against repotting in 100% kanuma.
 

Carol 83

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What substrate mix was Bill using instead?
I don't think he mentioned a specific substrate. Just advised against moving from a nursery soil to 100% kanuma. I have his email on my work computer. I'll look for it Monday. I left the ones from him in the soil I received them in and they are doing well.
 
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Interesting. This past spring I bare rooted and put a Momo no Haru from @BillV into a 90/10 kanuma/pumice mix.

After flowering the Momo no Haru was significantly cut back and initially wired. This Satsuki responded really well just like 26 of the rest of the 27 other Satsuki cultivars that were similarly treated. These comprised 19 different Satsuki and 2 Kurume cultivars. One narrow leaved cultivar, Kikoshi, died due to over fertilization.

There is one thing to be aware of when bare rooting Satsuki, at least with my trials, it appeared their growth stalled… go figure … then went into a normal growth pattern.

I also took at least ten cuttings from Momo no Haru, amongst many others, and struck every one of these in 50/50 peat/perlite.

That said, Kennedy in his book on Satsuki in “Floral Treasures of Japan” mentions young Satsuki cuttings do consistently better in a peat based mix rather then kanuma. The only issue is the plant has to be barerooted somewhere along the road if kanuma is to intended to be used….and if bark is used later on in the media as is often done… bare rooting is difficult.

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bunjin

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I wouldn't say it is an experiment. It is just a choice of containers I have been using for a few years now.

My experiment is growing side by side the same cultivars, half in pure kanuma and half in a mix with 2 x bark and 1 x pro mix (peat and perlite)
It's still early as they were summer planted but I think the grower's mix & bark is going to win out. Sure is a lot cheaper, but we will see after a full seasons growth.
I did the same experiment for a total of three years, only with four soil mixes. The 100% Kanuma definitely showed the slowest growth rate. The peat/perlite mix was good for growth thus did well in the study, but we know that it breaks down quickly if repotting is delayed. My experience with bark has told me to just use it for my orchids so it will be interesting to see how you do with it long term.
 

penumbra

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My experience with bark has told me to just use it for my orchids so it will be interesting to see how you do with it long term.
Interesting. I never use the peat mixes without bark. For growing on I have been doing this for nearly everything I grow for over 30 years. I use some perlite but primarily for rooting and for growing on tropicals.
 

Lorax7

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This seems to be turning into an extended discussion of soil for azaleas, which is outside the scope of the thread (it’s supposed to be a progression thread for my red azalea tree). Perhaps someone should start a separate discussion thread on the topic of azalea substrates.
 

Carol 83

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I will shut it. 🤫
 

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