Monday, May 19, 2008

Plant your azalea....


Plant your azalea in early spring or early fall. If your soil is loose, well drained, and has lots of organic matter, planting will be easy. If drainage is poor, youll need to correct the drainage problem or plant in raised beds. You can work in some well-rotted leaf mold or compost if the soil is short of organic matter. Don't worry about preparing the soil deeply since azalea roots are shallow and most are found in the top foot of soil. Instead, loosen the soil in a broad area around the planting site. If a soil test reveals that your soil is strongly alkaline, work in enough iron sulfate or ammonium sulfate to drop the pH to 4.5 to 5.5; your state's soil testing lab can give you guidance on how much of these materials are needed to acidify your soil. Water the pot thoroughly before planting and tease the soil away from the roots on the outside of the pot. Don't worry about injuring the roots it's more important to remove a significant amount of the potting soil than it is to keep every root intact. Plant the azalea slightly higher than the surrounding soil since it will probably settle after planting. Finally, water the whole area thoroughly and apply a thin layer of shredded leaves, pine needles, or pine bark to keep the soil cool and moist. Water your newly planted azalea weekly if the weather is dry, at least for the first year. Why isn't my azalea blooming?picture of the walled Morrison Garden Too much nitrogen in early summer may encourage vegetative growth at the expense of flower bud formation, so limit fertilizer applications to the fall or spring or skip the fertilizer all together. Although azaleas are well adapted to partial shade, deep shade produces spindly, weak growth and few flower buds. Azaleas usually won't flower well if planted under trees with dense foliage, such as maples, beeches, and pines. Plant in the diffused light under widely spaced, high-crowned trees like oaks and tulip poplars. Deer and rabbits may eat many of the flower buds as they browse in the winter, particularly if the weather is harsh and other food is scarce. Flower buds can also be damaged by cold, dry winds, particularly when warm winter weather is followed by a period of bitter cold.

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