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Hello friends,

Today (May 20) I purchased a Sakuragata Satsuki azalea from Schley’s Bonsai nursery and I need help transforming it into something beautiful. I’m new to azalea bonsai.

To begin, when is the best time to drastic prune this piece? Can I begin now (May)? Will duct seal work as a good cut paste?

Also, should I drastic prune first or should I transplant the tree into a bonsai pot first? If I should put it into a bonsai pot first, what time of year is best for this?

What is the best azalea bonsai soil and fertilizer?

Being that I live in Florida, the sun and heat are pretty intense. Will this particular type of azalea thrive indoors by a window?

Most importantly, I am struggling to find a good tree within the many branches. Can you guys help me figure out a good shape? Thanks in advance.
 

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Hmm... quite the challenge as you mentioned. No way you want to keep this baby inside though... You could work on it right after flowering if you can give it good vpcare. Howerpver from what you are indicating, I’ work on getting this azalea robust for next year. Work on getting your horticulture down and study the tree....and if it survives a year and is really healthy, you can wale away on it next spring.

My initial impression is that this tree looks very landscapey! Kind of like it was dug up from someone’s front yard. Nothing modern / conventional comes to mind.... you may have to at least partially bury the nebari along the way.... and maybe crave it a bit too....

Yet there is an older style called Kabudachi, or ‘sprout style that is perfect for situations like this. How to create this style is displayed in detail in ”Bonsai Techniques for Satsuki”. by Naka, Ota, and Rokkaku. Some folks call it clump style, but the clump style examples I’ve seen are no where near what these authors suggest.

However, check out this BNut thread, I think it might help.

cheers
DSD sends
 
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Pitoon

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I agree with @Deep Sea Diver study up basic horticulture and study some more on azaleas. You have plenty of time to work with that tree. Being as I lived in southern Florida the sun can be intense. It would be benefitial to keep it under say 30% shade cloth, also do your best to keep the leaves dry to prevent disease.....it's a best preventative practice. Remember once you cut you can't put it back, you'll have to grow it back.......so study up before cutting.

As I previously mentioned to you, with the base on this particular tree I see a really nice clump style, with a domed top.

You're always welcome to PM me........I charge per the cutting 😁
 
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Same here!

btw Sakuragata (trans: Cherry blossom shape) is know as having an upright spreading habit, which would be just right train into one of the larger clump styles.

cheers
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Same here!

btw Sakuragata (trans: Cherry blossom shape) is know as having an upright spreading habit, which would be just right train into one of the larger clump styles.

cheers
DSD sends
Interesting suggestions. I also had something like this in mind:
1A067C9F-9A99-4B93-AB98-ACCDA440750F.png
 
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Looks possible! I can’t tell as I'm not on scene, yet there seems to be a path to that design.

You never know for sure where side branches with be possible, but Satsuki are more able to back bud then most trees.

There is a trade off…. potential long term above average stand alone tree vs potential excellent clump…. saying this as you have lots of material to work with for the clump, vs an average trunk to begin with… not discounting if you are really good at design, wiring and pruning…then you might able to up the odds a lot.

But right now there is one thing to do first that I’m sure you are thinking about. Get the tree Uber healthy.., do what it takes to create plentiful, robust growth popping out everywhere before you cut down the line. The tree should be bursting with growth before styling. That means upgrading its fertilization regime, frequent misting and a solid watering plan.

Also I’m wondering what media the tree is in? Will it need to be changed to accept increased nutrients a watering and still sustain long term health?

Just a couple thoughts.
Cheers
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Looks possible! I can’t tell as I'm not on scene, yet there seems to be a path to that design.

You never know for sure where side branches with be possible, but Satsuki are more able to back bud then most trees.

There is a trade off…. potential long term above average stand alone tree vs potential excellent clump…. saying this as you have lots of material to work with for the clump, vs an average trunk to begin with… not discounting if you are really good at design, wiring and pruning…then you might able to up the odds a lot.

But right now there is one thing to do first that I’m sure you are thinking about. Get the tree Uber healthy.., do what it takes to create plentiful, robust growth popping out everywhere before you cut down the line. The tree should be bursting with growth before styling. That means upgrading its fertilization regime, frequent misting and a solid watering plan.

Also I’m wondering what media the tree is in? Will it need to be changed to accept increased nutrients a watering and still sustain long term health?

Just a couple thoughts.
Cheers
DSD sends
I appreciate all the help and suggestions. I’m fairly certain the tree is in pure kanuma soil; the owner said it was last reported two years ago.

Any suggestions on good azalea fertilizer that promotes thick, compact growth? Also, the tree is putting out new blooms constantly. Should I wait until it’s completely done blooming to apply new fertilizer? Furthermore, I really don’t know when the best time of year is to drastic prune to form the initial shape. The previous owner said Jan-March are good months for that, while online articles are all saying immediately after bloom and no later than July. Any help with this?

Thanks in advance
 
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I appreciate all the help and suggestions. I’m fairly certain the tree is in pure kanuma soil; the owner said it was last reported two years ago.
…….

Easy to tell if it’s in kanuma, just dig down a bit in one side with-a chop stick to see if it has light brown particles, usually about 3/16” in diameter down about an inch.
…….
Any suggestions on good azalea fertilizer that promotes thick, compact growth?
……

Before I discuss fertilization, it’s important to remember that it’s only part of a tirade, good media, proper fertilization and m proper, complete watering. That said…

As far as fertilizer goes, there are many good combinations. Many folks use solid fertilizer like bio gold and liquid fertilizer as a supplement. If you do, use at least double the bio gold to get the tree healthy. I don’t like to gunk up my media fast so I use osmocote plus as a base and miracle gro full strength with humic acid every week to ten days. Get empty tea bags to put the osmocote in if you don’t want the empty osmocote prills on your media. However these won’t gunk up your media if you don’t.
………
Also, the tree is putting out new blooms constantly. Should I wait until it’s completely done blooming to apply new fertilizer?
………

You can begin to fertilize now, it may affect the color of the blooms slightly, but your tree is in training, so that’s not a major issue.

So my recommendation is to get the tree robust and learn about it over the year, wait until at least February to drastic cut back. This has the advantage of giving your tree a lot longer to grow out next year…. and choreograph your cuts and study about Satsuki. If you cut now, you won’t have as long for the tree to recover.

Cheers
DSD sends
 
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I appreciate all the help and suggestions. I’m fairly certain the tree is in pure kanuma soil; the owner said it was last reported two years ago.
…….

Easy to tell if it’s in kanuma, just dig down a bit in one side with-a chop stick to see if it has light brown particles, usually about 3/16” in diameter down about an inch.
…….
Any suggestions on good azalea fertilizer that promotes thick, compact growth?
……

Before I discuss fertilization, it’s important to remember that it’s only part of a tirade, good media, proper fertilization and m proper, complete watering. That said…

As far as fertilizer goes, there are many good combinations. Many folks use solid fertilizer like bio gold and liquid fertilizer as a supplement. If you do, use at least double the bio gold to get the tree healthy. I don’t like to gunk up my media fast so I use osmocote plus as a base and miracle gro full strength with humic acid every week to ten days. Get empty tea bags to put the osmocote in if you don’t want the empty osmocote prills on your media. However these won’t gunk up your media if you don’t.
………
Also, the tree is putting out new blooms constantly. Should I wait until it’s completely done blooming to apply new fertilizer?
………

You can begin to fertilize now, it may affect the color of the blooms slightly, but your tree is in training, so that’s not a major issue.

So my recommendation is to get the tree robust and learn about it over the year, wait until at least February to drastic cut back. This has the advantage of giving your tree a lot longer to grow out next year…. and choreograph your cuts and study about Satsuki. If you cut now, you won’t have as long for the tree to recover.

Cheers
DSD sends
I appreciate everything, you have been very helpful! I’m thinking of stopping by lowe’s today to find some good fertilizers. My azalea is already in kanuma soil which is pretty acidic, would you still recommend something like humic acid? Osmocote plus is something I’ll probably go over and get today. When you say MiracleGro full strength, I cannot seem to find this product online. Would all purpose shake and feed work? I have a bottle and it’s 12-4-8. And you said use the miracle gro on top of the osmocote?
 
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Yes, I use both Osmocote Plus and liquid fertilizer on top of it to bulk out azaleas. However you are free to choose your own. This is what I use. Remember I am in the Puget Sound region. So not as hot as you. I encourage you to ask around to folks in your area if you are uncertain.

Whatever you do, don’t use shake on granules. They will end up gunking up your
kanuma. (Personal experience) You might as well just use Biogold from the getgo if you want to go this way.

If your tree was young, on a one to two year repotting rotation it wouldn’t matter so much…. (btw you will need to figure out your repotting rotation sooner than later too.)

I really don’t want to get into a fertilizer attributes discussion, there’s too many folks with their own opinions about this and it can be a real trigger point on BNut. This is my experience and opinion only. I encourage you to form your own with experience.

When I mentioned Miracle full strength, I meant mix the liquid fertilizer with water with the strength suggested by the manufacturer. btw product used to be sold under the name Miracid, switched to Miraclegro for acid loving plants and now is called both!

Here's this product is sold on Amazon as:.
Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Miracid Acid-Loving Plant Food, 4 lb

You can use Humic acid or not, it won’t affect the soil ph very much as it will either be converted to biomass or wash out with watering. However Humic acid (and Fulvic acid) isn’t so much an acid as a means to improve biomass. Check out this link

Whatever you do, start with one fertilizer, for example, just Osmocote plus for two weeks, then ease in the Miraclegro half strength for the first couple rotations.

In any event, once you start this regime, proper attention to watering is going to be important.

Good luck and please remember to post updates over time
DSD sends
 
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One last note. If you do choose to use Osmocote Plus, be sure to read the complete label for Florida application.

Here’s a link that might help you.

cheers
DSD sends
I appreciate all the help! I recently stopped by lowe’s and picked up a variety of fertilizers including osmocote plus just to have some available options. Today I applied osmocote plus to my azalea exactly according to the chart for Florida. While I was at lowe’s, I also picked up this water soluble azalea food:
C68FF07A-D878-407F-A106-78FD76820841.jpeg
Would it be safe to apply this on top of the osmocote plus?
 
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It looks ok on the NPK as Miracle Gro NPK is 30:10:10 also. I can’t see the if it has the same trace elements though…. should be ok. Wait a couple weeks for the Osmocote Plus to get started, then start the liquid fertilizer. Follow the tips all the folks gave above. Especially shade cloth…

Also: Watch the leaves tips closely. Browning tips can mean a whole bunch of things. Over/under watering overfertilizing too much Sun etc etc. but it is a good indication of your care

Good luck and keep us posted!
DSD sends
 
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It looks ok on the NPK as Miracle Gro NPK is 30:10:10 also. I can’t see the if it has the same trace elements though…. should be ok. Wait a couple weeks for the Osmocote Plus to get started, then start the liquid fertilizer. Follow the tips all the folks gave above. Especially shade cloth…

Also: Watch the leaves tips closely. Browning tips can mean a whole bunch of things. Over/under watering overfertilizing too much Sun etc etc. but it is a good indication of your care

Good luck and keep us posted!
DSD sends
Thanks for the help.

Also as you can see by the picture, the tree is looking a little leggy and thin on leaves. It doesn’t appear to have any health issues other than that. Could that just be a result of it being pot bound or the intense florida head/sun?
 
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I cant tell. Can you please send a couple more photos?

My initial impressions were it was bit short of leaves, leggy, needed maintenance light pruning and potted sufficiently. Since you were shooting for a radical cut back there seemed a need to get the tree stronger.

That’s why I suggested you improve your fertilization and water completely.

However it has been also suggested that you use shade cloth. Definitely if it’s in full or 3/4 sun. I’d certainly avoid hot afternoon sun. Morning sun with afternoon shade should be best if possible.

Cheers
DSD sends
 
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I cant tell. Can you please send a couple more photos?

My initial impressions were it was bit short of leaves, leggy, needed maintenance light pruning and potted sufficiently. Since you were shooting for a radical cut back there seemed a need to get the tree stronger.

That’s why I suggested you improve your fertilization and water completely.

However it has been also suggested that you use shade cloth. Definitely if it’s in full or 3/4 sun. I’d certainly avoid hot afternoon sun. Morning sun with afternoon shade should be best if possible.

Cheers
DSD sends
Its currently in bright shade all day, no direct sun. also it appears quite pot bound at the top, the roots are packed firm like a carpet in the kanuma.

I’ve been deadheading flowers and cutting off any dead twigs. If I were to prune to increase general health, how much should I cut back?


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4C75C401-249B-4870-96BF-39BB1F354B36.jpeg
769F7FC0-26A5-4ECC-B7E1-684693834FD8.jpeg
 
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I’m also watering the plant with pure reverse osmosis deionized water to prevent a raise in pH from normal tap water.
 

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