I live in Yuma, Arizona, USA. My winters are mild with low temps in the 40°F (4°C), 0-1 frosts. My summers are killer, though. Day temps are in the 115°F (46°C), and nights won’t really drop below 85°F (29°C). Humidity is very low, and winds in spring/summer really dry out everything. I get maybe 1-2 days of rain, and have very hard water.
That being said, I got a small azalea and want to keep it alive and thriving. I have access to RO water for irrigation, but need to figure out what to do for the summer. I know azaleas don’t really care for hot weather, but I’m wondering how it would do indoors. I would likely only keep it indoors while the day temps are high, maybe 3-4 months out of the year.
Any tips on soil composition would also be great. I know they like acidic soil, but I don’t know if they do well in a typical bonsai mix, or if I should use something more organic.
Any advice or guidance would be amazing, and I’d love to see any pictures of your own azaleas, too!
I recommend beginners stop looking at bonsai books while trying to figure out how they’re going to keep those species alive in their collection. Begin by looking at the natural landscape. Then look at the landscaping in neighborhoods. What species of trees and wood shrubs survive year after year? Which ones catch your eye the most?
If you see azaleas growing in people’s landscape, and the little guys survive for more than a season or two, then you should certainly look into growing azaleas. If not, as a newbie, you’re going to be working hard for limited rewards and a high risk of failure.
When i first started my bonsai journey in the early 2000, I tried to grow all sort of different trees. Back then, i was living in the Mediterranean Sea, on the island of Cyprus. Summers up to 45 Celsius and mild winters, plenty of humidity, little rain. The satsuki azaleas would just “exist” for a year and then they would slowly decline and die…
Sorry to disappoint you.
While not Yuma, Dallas is no stranger to 100+ temps for weeks on end in summers, and having lived in Lubbock, I will say that the nights are far hotter here in the D. Far more desert like conditions in West TX. I have Azalea in my landscape and members of my club have impressive ones as bonsai. I am growing my first, a 5 ft. whip, that I have no idea what to do with, that was a castoff from a club member…but I digress.
The ones in my landscape get watered as often as the grass…max 2x per week in summer. But they live South Facing, in morning sun and the shade of a massive Shumard Red Oak. Little to no sun after noon. Not sure if that helps. I am growing my first in a container this year as well.
@BillsBayou Here’s an aerial shot from google maps of what my landscape looks like.
It’s pretty much sand dunes and creosote bushes. They do make the cloudy days smell nice, though! Unfortunately, yards are mostly mesquite, bougainvillea, and citrus, with the occasional ficus. I’ve had one azalea die on me a few years back, but I have a family that loves to enable my hobby, and I keep getting lovely plants from them to kill.
@Stavros I had the same experience with the last one that was given to me a few years back, but I feel like I’m a little smarter this time around, and would like to give it another go, especially since I already own the plant.
@vicn1502 Unfortunately, I’m typically at work during the hottest parts of the day, making it hard to mist regularly, but now that you mention it, a moisture tray with rocks and water may help just the same.
@moon Now that I remember, last time I had one, it was getting a lot of direct sun, which I now know is no good. I have just the spot for it, which should give me light conditions similar to yours. It might be what I need to help me get it through the summer months.
Thank you to all for responding, but I’d love to hear more from anyone with experience with azaleas!
Well, one month later, and with temps steadily climbing, the azalea is doing pretty good.
I’ve watered with RO and have kept it out of direct sunlight and out of the wind. It’s dropped all the flowers, but it’s also started budding out a lot.
Any tips on what kind of soil mixture I can use, besides kiryu or kanuma? I was hoping not to spend too much on this little experiment. It’s in a tiny nursery plastic pot, and I was thinking about putting it a slightly larger pot that won’t dry it out as fast.