Satsuki Azalea - what is happening?

DamianTrimboli

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My satsuki azalea is killing branches.. this has been happing for about 3 months.. I thought it was because one day if was not watered, but now, branches that were well 1 month ago are dying now, I already lost 3 branches.. what do you think is happening?

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shinmai

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Are you referring to the browning of the leaves, or do you have actual dead branches?
 

penumbra

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Sure does look like root rot. You need to inspect the roots right away.
 

River's Edge

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I inspected roots 2 months ago and moved it into a bigger pot with new lava rock, roots seemed to be ok.. do you suggest to apply some fungicide? Which one?
Azalea prefer acidic soils, new lava may not be the answer to a problem that became apparent three months ago. Have you used any other components to adjust the Ph or retain moisture? Is the lava mix free draining?
At this point it would be best to take it to an experienced person for an in person assessment! Perhaps the nursery or individual you obtained the plant from.
 

River's Edge

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I use lava will all my azaleas and never had a problem, I bought it in Italy, in Barbazza bonsai. And I’m in Argentina, so that would not be possible :(
Ok, lets start at the beginning! As i understand it you have had the plant for three months and it was replanted two months ago! As you are in Argentina the season will be different from my locale. Please explain any other work you have done to the tree and the season that you are currently in in your location. I understand the climate can vary a lot with the geography so more detail rather than less would be helpful. Also the general care practices with watering routine and fertilizer used and how often?
Thanks
 

0soyoung

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You can always root drench with a solution of 2 tablespoons 3% hydrogen peroxide in a quart of water (about 1,000 ppm) - it is antiseptic.

I don't know how deeply it is potted, but set too low roots could be drowning. Maybe water a bit less often. According to what I can find on the internet, it looks to be rainy right now - maybe tilt the pot and rotate every few days or cover the substrate with something so the rain won't get in.
 

River's Edge

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I only water when the soil is dry, like my other trees. It is covered, it’s not receiving rain water , only when I water it.
The moss within the root structure seems to indicate higher levels of water retention than you suspect. Is it possible the root ball core is staying wet from soil remaining prior to purchase? You indicated the roots were inspected! What type of soil is remaining in the core of the root ball?
If that is the case then it would explain a root issue within the core and branches dying.
 

shinmai

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First, if your azaleas are in pure lava and have not had a problem previously, it’s a miracle. Lava is pH neutral, and you need an acidic environment for the azalea’s roots to take up iron and manganese. This is why we use kanuma, and dress the soil with yamagoke moss.

Second, if you wait until they are dry, you’re killing them. Azaleas are very sensitive to root temperature and moisture, and they should never be allowed to dry out. Moist is the key condition to shoot for.

If it were me, I would get some kanuma. Then I would remove the tree from the pot and dunk it in the peroxide solution recommended by Osoyoung [who offers his usual good advice]. I would cut away any roots that appear to be rotted, but otherwise leave the root mass unmolested.

I would then gently re-pot, on top of a layer of large-particle kanuma at least a finger-width deep, and surround the root mass with a similar width around the edges using a smaller particle size. I would pot it so that the soil came up to the base of the trunk, leaving none of the roots exposed to air. I would then put a bamboo skewer into the soil, and check it daily to see if I needed to water [thus taking the guesswork out of the process].

I would also prune back any branches that appear to be desiccated or are brittle, until I found green wood, and cover the cuts with the orange cut paste for azaleas. I would then place the pot in the shade, and not fertilize until the tree was healthy.

Then I would light a novena candle, pray for the best, and start shopping for another tree, since even with all of the above, the odds are probably 4:5 against.

That’s just me. Your mileage will almost certainly vary.

Good luck.
 

AJL

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Italian nursery stock imported to Argentina!! bet you didnt quarantine it!! Did Barbazza bonsai provide a Phytosanitary certificate?
 

Forsoothe!

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I would assume the soil pH is too high and treat it accordingly, now. Add a cup of white vinegar to a gallon of water and use that daily to bring down the pH immediately, but temporarily. As above stated, don't let them dry out, in or out of season. Put them out in the rain in full, all day sun until ~Nov. 21st or so when direct, full day sun may become too intense for them, at which time change them to morning full sun. You can't over-water an Azalea in the spring growing season in good light. Sunlight and water are the two most important things to plants, and sick plants need both to recover. You wouldn't withhold liquids and food from a sick person and expect them to recover from an illness or un-well condition. Find a Spruce/Pine/Fir tree locally and gather some fallen needles to apply as an inch or two of mulch. Crush/break the needles to expose a greater surface area for faster decomposition and hence, leaching. Buy a liquid fertilizer for acid-loving plants and feed according to label directions every other week from now until ~Feb.1st. I use Superthrive and Infuse preemptively, but it just depends upon how much you want to spend to increase your odds of success. Buona fortuna.
 

River's Edge

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The old soil is old kanuma, and I can’t get kanuma here in Argentina, we don’t even have akadama or pomice.
This then could very well be the basic issue, lava on the outside retains far less moisture and dries quickly, the Kanuma holds more moisture and retains a wet core! Prime conditions for fungal issues to arise along with root rot!
I note in your previous posts a number of fungal concerns with different species imported from a variety of locations, USA, Japan, Italy! If you are bringing plants from varying climates , out of season and up potting with significantly different soil components but leaving the original core intact that can lead to a lot of problems.
I would suggest learning how to transition trees from their native or current soil mix to the components you have available. the alternative would be to explore and work with native species. Even in this case the repot transition skills will be invaluable when switching from collected soil or nursery soil for a mix suitable within Bonsai pot restrictions.
 
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