Sweet Serenity Azalea Bonsai

Jemjn0501

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A friend sent me a Sweet Serenity Azalea Bonsai from flowers.com after my sister passed away. I have no idea how to take care of it and I am not finding much information online. The instructions that came with it are for keeping it outside and I live in Wisconsin. How would I protect it in the winter? We have temperatures below 40 for most of the season. Should I just put it in the basement? If so, do I continue to water it? Any advice is much appreciated :)

 

penumbra

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I cannot find an azalea by that name listed anywhere except flowers.com. Therefore I can't give advice on an azalea I know nothing about. It is possible that it is a greenhouse azalea grown for the florist trade and that it might not be hardy. I have some azaleas that are marginal that will be in a hoop house and some in a coldframe, but I have no advice on keeping one inside. I'm sure its no easy task. I hope someone comes along with some solid advice.
 
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A friend sent me a Sweet Serenity Azalea Bonsai from flowers.com after my sister passed away. I have no idea how to take care of it and I am not finding much information online. The instructions that came with it are for keeping it outside and I live in Wisconsin. How would I protect it in the winter? We have temperatures below 40 for most of the season. Should I just put it in the basement? If so, do I continue to water it? Any advice is much appreciated :)

Gosh, I’m really sorry about your sister passing. I can’t imagine how you must feel. Please accept my condolence.

Nursery azaleas make really nice presents and I can understand how much you want to keep it alive.

@penumbra is right on, it’s very hard to help you if we can’t nail down something more tangible about what type of azalea this is. Perhaps you can connect with the retailer and track this down.

There are some of your questions that are possible to answer.

Nursery azaleas are a somewhat iffy proposition. Some are more hardy then others… the key is to be able to make it through the first year. It’s doable but will require an investment in time and effort on your part… we can assist when provided specific data.

Azaleas are outside trees. Putting an azalea in the basement for the winter wouldnt be a good idea unless you had a grow light set up.

Azalea like to be moist, never wet. It’s better to under water a bit then to overwater, which would be a prelude to root rot.

Azaleas can handle being inside for awhile, but not for long.

Finally azaleas like to be in part sun, morning is best. They don’t like high temperatures, above 90F and most don’t tolerate freezing temperatures for

Overwintering - I’d recommend you do some research using the search function in the upper right corner as there are many nuances to this. Be advised keeping one azalea is almost as hard a keeping a dozen through the winter. Here’s a thread on a similar situation from someone in zone 5b that will get you started. There are other threads here on the topic.

There is also an online resource here about azaleas that can provide you with a lot of details about azaleas.

Hope this helps!
Cheers
DSD sends
 

sorce

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Pics!

Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 

Jemjn0501

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Thanks All! I found out it is a Satsuki bonsai. I’m still nervous about winter in Wisconsin. I read that I can keep it out until temp gets to 35 and then put in basement as long as it stays between 20 and 50 degrees. Thoughts? Also, is yellow leaf from under watering or too much sun?
 

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HorseloverFat

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This is NOT sweet serenity...

But speaks OF the Serenity cultivar..

Hang on.. I’m super curious now.
 

HorseloverFat

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The Serenity Cultivars all APPEAR to be Glenn Dale Evergreen cultivars... Sweet Serenity is possibly a Glenn Dale Cultivar of the “Sweet Azalea”..

Not really sure (can’t see the link 🤣)... curious though!
 
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Hmm. I can’t get that link to open either.

Thanks for the information that it’s a satsuki. Sweet Serenity is likely a marketing name. It’s not listed as a cultivar in any of the literature. It’s possible its one of the many beautiful not true to type azaleas and was easy to propagate and flowered well.

In any event evergreen azaleas aren’t really evergreen in the conifer sense of the word. These trees have two sets of leaves, summer leaves and winter leaves. What you are seeing is the summer leaves shedding. So no worries at this point.

The key for you is going to be to get the plant into dormancy, then bring it inside in a place thats generally below 45F if possible.…. and keep it in dormancy.

We’ve folks successfully use an unlighted well house, cold frames, cold greenhouses, unheated garages with and without lights or heat mats. Haven’t heard about a basement, yet it’s worth a try.

Some things to look out for in this situation. Same for temperatures consistently above the 40’s.

Minimal lighting - Too much light can wake the plant up from dormancy.

Moisture - The plant will need a bit of water, maybe monthly or a bit more to keep the roots hydrated. When I mentioned a bit of water, it’s just that. Soaked roots is a no no. As the media likely has a peat base be sure not to let this dry all the way out. It’s really hard to rewet peat, and doing so often loses the air spaces between the particles.

Fungus - dampness fosters fungus. A small amount of indirect nearby airflow can keep the fungus down. We use cheap muffin fans for low flow applications here.

Good Luck and Cheers
DSD sends
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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@Jemjn0501 - Welcome to Bonsai Nut, and possibly a life long hobby. Though "Not Yet !!!" is my answer to the question; "Have you been doing bonsai all your life?"

The Milwaukee Bonsai Society is a very active group, in Milwaukee. Unfortunately, their Oct 2 meeting was about preparing and storing trees for winter. Too bad you missed it (I missed it too, was travelling). The next meeting is November 6, Saturday, currently listed as TBD, most likely 9 am at the Boerner Botanic Garden, in Hales Corner. The November newsletter should be available by Oct 20, check back for details on the November meeting and the new newsletter.

latest newsletter

The November newsletter will be at the link below once it is uploaded to the server, (I know the file naming pattern they use)


I am a member of the Milwaukee group. I keep Satsuki azalea, and some of my azalea have been in my care for more than 20 years. I started over with bonsai several times. Regardless, I have wintered my Satsuki type azalea and "florist's azalea" several different ways over the years.

If you have a basement, that is unheated or not heated as warm as the house, you can set up an under lights growing area, and you will be able to raise a large number of sub-tropical and cool temperate trees that need cool winter rest but can not tolerate a hard freeze. There are a couple marijuana grow supply stores in the Milwaukee area. Azaleas need about one half the light of a marijuana plant. An LED system for marijuana or tomatoes could be be used, just mount the lights to be about 25% higher above the plants than suggested for tomatoes. So if for tomatoes or marijuana they recommend the light one foot above the shelf, the light at 15 inches above the shelf would be 25% higher, and the light density per square foot would be about half compared to the mounting at 12 inches above.

Heck, for many years I used ordinary fluorescent shop lights (cool white T12 lamps, 48 inch fixtures, 2 lamps per fixture) mounted about an inch or two above my plants on a bench in the basement. The lamps were on ropes, I could raise or lower them according to the height of the plants that year. Lights were on a timer, 10 hours on, 14 hours off until February, then 18 hours on and 8 hours off until it was safe to move them out in spring. Have a small fan blowing across the area with the trees. A computer cooling fan will do, or a cheap fan from Walmart. The air movement keeps roots healthy, as air moving across the soil helps air to penetrate the soil.

Modern LED lamps are very energy efficient and run much cooler than the old fashioned fluorescent tubes.

An alternate method is you are lucky enough to have a decommissioned well house. At my current home I am lucky enough to have a well house. This is an underground room, that is deeper than the frost line. I can access it through my basement. It is where the now filled in well head was located. The roof of the well house looks like a patio in my back yard. In winter it falls to the same temperature as the ground at 5 feet below grade, roughly 32 to 40 F. Temperature is very constant even in the coldest of winters the well house stays just barely above freezing. I wait until end of November, then move all my less than fully winter hardy trees into the well house, including evergreen azalea. The well house has no lights. I have a fan to keep air moving in the room. I close the door, it is totally dark. I check once a week to see if they need water. As long as the temperature is below 40 F, there is no need for light. The metabolism of azalea, pines and other trees is so slow at 40 F or colder that very little stored sugars are used. Everybody comes out in spring.

Works fine.

Worst choice, or rather most difficult choice is wintering your Satsuki on a windowsill in the house. The cool from the glass will be enough to simulate a cool rest. It will be difficult keeping the plant humid enough. But it can be done.

If you can, come to the next Milwaukee Bonsai Society. Our club's member Rick W, Judy S, myself Leo S, Steve C, and Irene H, and Brian S all have satsuki azalea and each of us winter's ours differently. Rick W and Steve C use a greenhouse heated to barely above 40 F at night. I use the well house currently, Irene does the windowsill routine. I forgot how Judy does her's. Most of this list make just about every meeting. Hope to meet you.
 
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Leo in N E Illinois

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@HorseloverFat - Leo, you are sneaky, you almost got me browsing through thousands of pages of registered names for Rhododendron hybrids. You were heading the right direction. There are ICRA's for every conceivable group of plants. Just drilling a little further from your links I ended up at the "master index" of ICRA's.

The "master list" of ICRA's (International Cultivar Registration Authorities) is here:


As you can see from the list, just about any plant you can think of will be under one or another of the registration authorities.
I was about to read through a many hundred page list of registered Rhododendron hybrids, because unlike the orchid group, the list has not been indexed for searching electronically. Then I thought about it. Heh heh, you almost got me to waste a day digging. For what it is worth, the orchid lists are indexed, and searchable by name, parentage, date, or hybrid originator, very convenient. Now we just have to get the Rhododendron group to join this century.

You're sneaky that way. LOL.

And to those who don't know, Horseloverfat and myself share a first name, Leo

Key is, that by and large almost all azalea in the floral and nursery trade, can be grown the same way.
 

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