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24 September 2014

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You are in: Lancashire > Nature > Features > Ask the gardener: Azaleas

Azalea

Ask the gardener: Azaleas

Find out how to care for your azaleas...

Warton's Bill Blackledge is one of the county's most popular and sought after gardeners.   If it's green and needs watering, Bill can tell you about it.  He has been answering BBC Radio Lancashire listeners' queries for over thirty years, which means he's been there nearly as long as the transmitter!

His knowledge is encyclopedic. After training at the under the then Ministry of Agriculture, Bill spent over twenty years at the Department of Biological and Environmental Services at Lancaster University.  Now, he's a regular course tutor at Alston Hall, Longridge and Lancaster Adult College.

For three decades, Bill has travelled the county with fellow judges as a regional judge for North West in Bloom.

So, whatever the problem, we like to think Bill can sort it out... at least that's the theory!

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Howard asks...

I have 6 Rosebud azaleas that I normally spray with Wiltproof.  In the spring the buds make it but the leaves have damage.  Last year I sprayed and wrapped them in burlap.
Instead of helping, I had almost total leaf and bud kill.  Are they likely to get new leaves? What might I have done wrong?

Bill replies...

I have never used Wiltproof which is an anti transpirrant and I feel that it could quite easily be the accumulation of the spraying of this anti transpirrant and then wrapping the buds in Burlap which has caused the damage.  The leaves on your plants and buds will not have been able to breath successfully.  With regard to whether your plant will recover, I feel this will depend on how long the plants have been covered.  It maybe worthwhile to keep your plants and see if any new leaves do appear.

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Sean asks...

What is the best compost to use for planting an azalea kermesina?

Bill replies...

I am afraid Sean that I am not familiar with this variety of Azalea but Azaleas do require an acid/ericacious soil.  If you intend to plant your Azalea in the garden you will need to carry out a soil pH test to see if your garden soil is either acid or alkaline.  If you intend planting in a container you will need to use an ericacious compost and I would also recommend using either a ceramic or terracotta pot rather than plastic as these will keep the roots slightly warmer during the winter period.

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Graham Le Cornu asks...

I have thick distortions of the leaves on one of my Azalea plants. This has been happening for the last couple of years. What is it and what is the cure?

Bill replies...

I have spoken to one of my colleagues Graham and we are both of the opinion that the thick distortion of the leaves on one of your Azalea plants is a fungal disorder and it not only causes distortion of the leaves but also the leaves turn a very pale greenish yellow.  I am afraid that there is no cure for this disorder and the only suggestion that I can make is to cut back the shoots which have the distorted leaves.  Sorry that I can be of no more help.

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Claire Bacon asks...

When is the right time to move an azalea and how would I do it?

Bill replies...

Azaleas belong to the Rhododendron family but they are usually classed as a specific distinct group and, they can be deciduous or evergreen.  The deciduous Azaleas can grow to a height of six feet and include the popular Azalea Mollis hybrids.  The evergreen Azaleas are far smaller - they grow to a height of one/two feet and are low spreading.  Regarding the correct time for transplanting I find early Autumn time is ideal for both species.  But, you can also replant early Spring but it must be before the deciduous Azaleas come into leaf.  Azaleas prefer a sheltered spot in partial shade and need to be grown in a slightly acid soil.   

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Linda Gilmour asks...

My Azalea has not flowered again this year.  It is in the same bed as a Rhodedendron and the flowers on that are superb. Will it be better to lift it and place it in a pot with ericaceous compost? If so when will be the best time?

Bill replies...

If the rhododendron in the bed is a larger plant than the Azalea it could well be that the dominant plant is taking all the moisture and nutrients from the Azalea causing the buds not to form.  If, this is the case it would be better to move the Azalea.  The time for moving your Azalea is early Spring or Autumn.  With Spring being late this year you will get away with moving your plant now.

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Sheila Halstead asks...

Is it possible to prune a deciduous azalea? My plant is about 6 years old and about 3.5 feet high. It is growing in a shady spot and this year it only has about 6 flower buds on it and looks a bit leggy and bare. If I prune it will it re-sprout? and when should I do it?

Bill replies...

The deciduous azalea in general Sheila do not like hard pruning but, it maybe worthwhile to cut one or two of the old shoots down to see if it will encourage new growth and I find with quite a number of the deciduous azalea they will in time produce new shoots from base level.  One of the reasons for not having plenty of flowers this year could have been caused by the very wet winter.  Azalea cannot cope with waterlogged soil and it may be also worthwhile to give your plant a boost by feeding it with a recommend fertiliser.

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Margaret Rillie asks...

I got a 12" high standard azalea for Mother's day. It has no name or whether it is deciduous or evergreen. It is in full bloom. Once flowers have finished can it be put in the garden. Thanks.

Bill replies...

Once your Azalea has finished flowering Margaret you would be far better keeping your plant outside in the garden - providing that the weather is not too harsh or frosty - as the contrast from being indoors and placed outdoors might be too great.  If your Azalea has a small leaf it will probably be an evergreen species and most likely the Indica species which are not 100 per cent hardy.  What I would suggest you do is to repot your Azalea into a larger pot in ericaceous compost and keep it outside during the summer months and during the winter months it would probably be fine to be also kept outside in a sheltered position. However if the weather does become extreme you may be better placing your plant in a cool greenhouse or porch.

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Ann Bailey asks...

I have a few azalea plants and even though they are quite a few years old, this year there is a lot of browning on the leaves, and I have even lost one completely. I am thinking of treating them with nimrod T, will this cure the symptom or will I lose more of them?

Bill replies...

I would wait to see if the new leaves are infected on your azalea plants Ann before spraying.  The browning of the leaves could have been caused by the cold dry weather which we have had this Spring.  I would also make sure your plants are well watered and give them a feed with an acid fertliser.  I would steer clear of spraying your plants with Nimrod T - under the new EEC Guidlines on the use of fungicides and insecticides Nimrod T has been taken off the market.

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Maria asks...

I have an evergreen Azalea in a large pot - it has been in same pot/soil for probably at least 10 years. In 2005 the floral display was rather poor but this spring it was absolutely beautiful... when I collected up the flowers after they fell I counted well over 200! However, I'm sure it would appreciate some fresh compost and also I'm hoping that some of the drooping branches may have rooted so that I can pot them up separately to make more plants. When is the best time of year to do this please? Any tips/advice you can give would be appreciated. Thanks.

Bill replies...

The best time to re-pot your Azalea Maria would be after flowering (late Spring) and you will need to use an ericaceous compost.  With your Azalea being a large plant I would increase the size of the pot by approximately four sizes - making sure there are plenty of rocks in the bottom for drainage.  You mention some of the drooping branches which may have rooted and again, if you lift the stems up and they have produced roots re-pot the shoots in a five inch pot - placing them in a slightly shaded area. Keeping them well watered will help to ensure that they survive.

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Kath McGill asks...

Bill can you tell me how and when is the best time to take azalea cutting? Thank you.

Bill replies...

Azelea cuttings can be taken during the summer months - the young shoots from this season's growth need to approximately two to three inches long and the cuttings can be inserted around the sides of three/five inch pot in a ericaceous compost.  I would use a rooting compound and the cuttings will also require humid conditions - this can be achieved by covering the pot with a clear polythene bag.  You need to keep the cuttings Kath in a sheltered spot in the garden out of direct sunlight and don't allow the cuttings to dry out.  You will have more success with the small leafed evergreen Azaleas than the deciduous varieties.

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Sarah Love asks...

Unfortunately my more exposed azalea, which was growing quite nicely was uprooted by strong winds.  I replanted it from where it came and gradually the leaves started to brown and now they are all brown and the plant looks dead. But if I scratch at the base of the plants stem it shows green underneath the bark so to speak. Has is suffered stress?  Also, what should I do, prune it back hard (and when) or just leave it?

Bill replies...

You may find Sarah that new shoots on your affected Azalea will appear during the summer months but it will depend on how badly the roots have been affected when uprooted.  Regarding pruning back your Azalea this will depend again on particular varieties but I would be inclined to prune back some of the larger shoots.  If there is no die back on the shoots there is a good chance that new leaves will start to appear.

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Vicky asks...

I brought an Azalea - Marilee - Evergreen in June - it flowered beautifully. Following the flowering period I removed the dead heads. It sat beautifully with its green leaves for many weeks; however, during the last two weeks the leaves turned yellow/brown. Alarmingly enough I have two identical Azalea - Marilee – Evergreen sitting side by side – one is in perfect condition with green leaves – the other now has yellow/green leaves. What is the problem? Can it be fixed? Is it alive/dead? What chance of survival for next year does it have? Thanks.

Bill replies...

The yellow/green leaves on your Azalea Vicky is the classic symptoms of lime induced chloris which causes a deficiency of iron to your Azaleas.  To offset this problem I would give your Azaleas a liquid feed with sequestrion iron.  It is also important especially with newly planted Azaleas to ensure they are well watered and if possible with rain water.  With the weather we have been having this is a near impossibility and it could quite well be that if you have been watering with tap water - the lime content in the water could have caused the leaves to yellow.

last updated: 02/06/2008 at 15:06
created: 23/10/2006

You are in: Lancashire > Nature > Features > Ask the gardener: Azaleas



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