Shohin Azalea Waking Up

october

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Hello All,
I have had this azalea from probably 6 years. I have done some pretty major work to it. Actually it was chopped about 4 years ago because it was just a bush. Last year it was repotted. However, I also decided to chop it again. This was for future health reasons. Although the tree looked really nice after the first chop. There was no leader within the canopy, It was a bunch of thick branches growing kind of diagonally. In time, I think that they would have all grown into each other and the whole interior would have been lost. I did take a chance with the second chop, but the tree seems fine. I want to probably prune or maybe defoliate in the apex. However, I will let the tree rest, grow and regain strength this season. Perhaps with some good growth, a light pruning might be all that is necessary. The tree is about 4 1/2 inches tall with about a 2 inch base. Here is the tree after some new wiring. Comments welcome.

Rob
 

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Harunobu

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Seems you will have to strengthen the apex and select 3 branches and lose the rest.

The first two branches oppose each other. Maybe the one inside the bend will have to go?
 

jk_lewis

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In the long run, I think you will need much more organic material in the soil.
 

october

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Thanks for commenting..Actually, if you look at the first pic, Even though it is shaded, the first 2 branches are not opposing at all. They are actually about 1/2 inch apart. Considering the tree is less than 5 inches, it is a good proportion. You are correct about the apex. However, this tree has only recently come out of winter storage. If a few weeks the tree will start budding and growing from everywhere. Then, I will be able to see which areas are actually the weekest.

Hello jkl...The tree is planted in Japanese Kanuma. which is what almost all of the azaleas are planted in at the nursery. They sell kanuma there so I just use that since it is there native soil. The soil you see is a fresh layer of kanuma just put on, since some washed away over the winter. By organic do you mean adding some tree bark etc to the soil?
 

tmmason10

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Do you know what kind of azalea this is? Did it end up flowering last year? Looks similar to a small Kazan i have
 

Harunobu

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Leaves look like 'Kazan', the reddish (and more famous one). You can never be completely sure until you can see the flowers.

Since this was bumped, kanuma soil is very good for azalea of course. But it may not be the most ideal in all cases. Especially when you add in cost. Kanuma does great in Japan where they have a really intense raining season in the middle of the summer. Places that have dry summers might want a bit more water retention. Pine bark and course peat are great to use in azalea mixes. Just never switch from pure kanuma to something else.

Always feel free to cut the new growth back to two branches with one pair of leaves on each.
This site has a good picture:
www.satsukimania.net/index.php/tips/pruning.html

I have heard several people say that defoliating is always bad or rather not ideal for a bonsai because you want to retain as much photosynthetic foliage as possible.
I do sometimes see Japanese sites that have pictures of almost entirely defoliated trees. I do wonder a bit about the exact purpose. Maybe to encourage backbudding on old wood. Often backbudding is no problem but the apex may be a challenge in this respect.

BTW Tom, I don't think the azalea on your blog is 'Aikoku'. Maybe it is 'Sendai'. A proper 'Aikoku' should have a winder range of flowers. Now it might actually be an 'Aikoku' that started to sport 'badly'. But I highly doubt it. 'Aikoku' seems to do a different kind of white center flowers. And those coloured white center flowers generally have a stronger blotch.
 
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tmmason10

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Leaves look like 'Kazan', the reddish (and more famous one). You can never be completely sure until you can see the flowers.

Since this was bumped, kanuma soil is very good for azalea of course. But it may not be the most ideal in all cases. Especially when you add in cost. Kanuma does great in Japan where they have a really intense raining season in the middle of the summer. Places that have dry summers might want a bit more water retention. Pine bark and course peat are great to use in azalea mixes. Just never switch from pure kanuma to something else.

Always feel free to cut the new growth back to two branches with one pair of leaves on each.
This site has a good picture:
www.satsukimania.net/index.php/tips/pruning.html

I have heard several people say that defoliating is always bad or rather not ideal for a bonsai because you want to retain as much photosynthetic foliage as possible.
I do sometimes see Japanese sites that have pictures of almost entirely defoliated trees. I do wonder a bit about the exact purpose. Maybe to encourage backbudding on old wood. Often backbudding is no problem but the apex may be a challenge in this respect.

BTW Tom, I don't think the azalea on your blog is 'Aikoku'. Maybe it is 'Sendai'. A proper 'Aikoku' should have a winder range of flowers. Now it might actually be an 'Aikoku' that started to sport 'badly'. But I highly doubt it. 'Aikoku' seems to do a different kind of white center flowers. And those coloured white center flowers generally have a stronger blotch.
Interesting. Do you have a link to show me what the Sendai variety may look like? I just went off thr tag at the nursery. This may be a moot point because I don't know if it will wake up this spring.
 

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tmmason10

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You are suggestion you think it may be dead? Well too bad I guess, if that's the case. If it dies in winter you won't be able to tell until it doesn't wake up, usually, if you get what I mean.

http://www.pbase.com/azaleasociety/image/56705108
http://www.hirsutum.info/rhododendron/azaleas/detail.php?id=14773
http://www.pbase.com/azaleasociety/image/86002457
Yup I would say the variety you suggested may be correct, the leaves look right too. And yes, it looks as though I didn't overwinter it correctly, the leaves look shriveled and yellow. I guess well see soon but it doesn't look promising.
 

Harunobu

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Azalea are generally winter hardy. Satsuki a bit less so. What you want is for the azalea to experience some mild frost in autumn/early winter. Then, later in winter low temperatures shouldn't be a problem unless they get really low. Like below 15 F. An early or late sudden intense frost can damage or kill them. The really cold frost periods can also be a problem. Azalea are winter hardy but they don't like it too cold. It gets tricky with zone 6 and maybe some zone 7's.

Evergreen azalea shred their large sping leaves in autumn. Frost burn is not yellow. Also, the roots and the stem are the problem with cold. The bark can split if it gets too cold while it is still not into dormancy. If the leaves around the flower buds are shriveled there may be a problem.

These type of azalea are probably not reliable as landscape plants in your area. I know 'Aikoku' is much less winter hardy than some other satsuki. But they don't just die when frost hits them.

Sounds like your azalea is ok, if I have to guess.
 

edprocoat

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October, too me the plant is perfect! It looks right now like a natural tree, when it flowers I bet it will be stunning. The proportions are outstanding and the pot is a good choice for the tree and the trunk color. Nice job.

ed
 

october

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Hello everyone.. I just found that this thread was resurrected.. Anyway, this is a satsuki azalea. This tree has been in training for about 6-7 years. It was defoliated at one point about 3-4 years ago. The tree is alive and well, but currently dormant. The pics that I posted at the beginning of this thread is the season after I did another major chop on this tree. It sounds funny saying major chop since the tree is only about 4 inches tall..lol. Actually, there have been 3 major chops on this tree. Here is the tree is different stages of training over the last 6-7 years.

This was the tree shortly after purchase. I think I paid about $25 for it. All I did was a light trim and put it in a bonsai pot.



After a couple of years, I still didn't have a good plan so I just repotted it into a smaller bonsai pot. However, after this, I decided to basically chop almost the whole tree off. The blue designates where it was to be chopped.


Here is the tree after the chop. Also, since the tree was so small but the branches were strong. I decided to just use guy wire like wiring. The screen is to protect those areas.


Here is the tree recovering.


This is the tree fully recovered.


Here is the tree put in its final bonsai pot. The tree was a bit stressed at this time. I believe the soil had been too wet and not draining.


Here is the tree happy again and fully recovered. This is about 4 years into it's training.



It was around this time that the accident with the hose sent the tree off the ledge and broke the back part off. With the back open. I decided to take this time to structure the tree better by making some big cuts. The whole left side was cut and new wiring was done. Now we have a great foundation. Also, this is a different pot. I believe that the one the tree was in broke when it fell. Fortuantely they had the exact same color and style pot at the nursery


The tree is starting to recover nicely again.


After a bit more work, this is how the tree looked at the end of last season. This tree is showing a bright future. It looks like I will get foliage and be able to build small pads in just the right places. We will see what the tree decides though.


Rob
 

Harunobu

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Nice pictures. As an azalea person ignorant up to a point about bonsai, do you think some of the branches got too fat and ought to have been pruned earlier? It seems that retain proper dimensions between trunk and branches and have a good ramification, especially with these small ones, every once in a while one needs to regrow the foliage entirely from scratch.

But no pictures of the flowers :(
 

Ang3lfir3

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Nice pictures. As an azalea person ignorant up to a point about bonsai, do you think some of the branches got too fat and ought to have been pruned earlier? It seems that retain proper dimensions between trunk and branches and have a good ramification, especially with these small ones, every once in a while one needs to regrow the foliage entirely from scratch.

But no pictures of the flowers :(
glad you brought that up.... I don't think people often realize this is required for satsuki at least..... it is impressive how dis-proportionally the branches thicken in relationship to the trunk...
 

Harunobu

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Yeah. maybe in the future after a prune, some of those branches will backbud. Then later maybe cut the main branch and keep the backbud. That way you can get taper on those branches again.
 

october

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Thanks everyone..As of now, the branches are a good thickenss for the trunk. However, as far as training time, if I had originally stated this line of training for the tree about 4-5 years ago. I may have been able to save myself a couple of years of training. However, I am not sure that the same options were there back then. Although it is true that in some cases, for instance tropicals, that you do need to almost start all over again. I do not think that it is an option for this tree.

What has to be considered as the first priority of this tree is pruning according to health and size. I think that it is difficult to understand how small this tree is unless you see it in person. You could cup your hand over the tree and not even see it. As far as ramification and branch taper. It is important the we keep in mind that we are literally dealing with branches that are only about 1 1/2 inches or less in length. Due to this trees growth habits and size, ramification and branch taper will be limited. Although cutting back to bud is usually a good idea, when your entire branch is only one inch, it might not be good for the tree. I think there might be a possibility of that branch dying as well.

I am always looking for the best look for a tree. even if it sets me back a couple/few years to restyle sometihng I have already been training. Perhaps with enough time and if these branches do become too thick on the ends, I will hopefully have a bud to cut back to and a tree that is very strong and will allow me to do so. Also, the last photograph if the progression series was at the end of last season and the tree just starting to take it's new and permanent shape. I am expecting a much bettter silhouette and top haf of the tree by the end of this upcoming season.:D

Rob
 

tmmason10

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I think that last picture looks great Rob. If it is the "Kazan" variety of satsuki I know how small it is, because the leaves are tiny. Hope to see it bloom this spring.
 
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