Azalea - what shall I do ? Repot yes or no?

Hi All,

I did buy an Azalea with an unknown history and not looking very healthy, even with my limited knowledge I negotiated down the price and suddenly I did add a nice tree to my collection!

I was quite inspired after watching both Peter Warren sessions to get a Azalea added to the collection
My main issue is the correct soil the tree is in, and not having a lot of leaves To me it looks very poor drainage , meaning poor oxygen and unknown water retention. Also this would make fertilisation difficult for the remainder of the growing season.

The guy told me he had flowers and did some prune just after the flowering stopped.
So what shall I do now?

A: Against the rule try to do a kind of repot, do a very minimal repot only touching the edges and try to clean wash off the hard top layer and get into a slightly bigger pot. We will get lower temperatures next week as we just had 2 weeks 24 - 28 Celsius (75F to 84F) but next week it will be at least for 7 days 21 / 70F, what would be better if we would go for this repot now

B: Wait and hope it will survive the remaining growing season and report early next year, and fertilise it with a liquid for the remaining growing seasons still?

C: Wait until I do see some new fresh growth and do a repot still in summer?

D: Any other suggestions?

Many thanks in advance!

Here I just watered and it take at least 60 Seconds to absorb it.

I just read on Bonsai Empire that azaleas should be repotted in the spring, or after flowering (June). Since it’s June right now, I’d guess that right now would be a reasonable time to do the repot. The website also says:

It is important to use a special soil for azaleas which is lime-free. Pure Kanuma for example is a good azalea soil.

Yes, that was the plan, Pure Kanuma or 95% with a bit of 5 % Pumice. Was just wondering what the risks is, wait or do it now… as in the stream they did stopped doing repot in the summer. I think it is needed and I will take the risk.

Hi Klaas, I usually repot my trees in spring , but I know several people that repot in June right after they remove the flowers. If it was my tree I would remove the old kauma off the top (just about 1/4’’) but be careful Satsuki roots are very fine. Than I would remove some the botom soil also and put the tree in a larger pot for now.
From the looks the kanuma has gotten compacted and has started to clogged up the drainage holes. The cause, kanuma gets old compacts soil, in time organic fert compact soil.
Another thing, when you repot the tree try not to crust the kanuma with your chop stick. Remember kanuma soil is soft, if you just keep poking it you will crush it into dust.
Also now a days after we finish repotting the tree. We put a wet mixer of sphagnum moss and ground moss on top of the dry kanuma. Once we have done that, we water the tree until the water flows out clear from the bottom hole.

Thanks for your reply, I did do almost the suggestions you just had I mind.
But as the temperature ar next two week are only between 16C/ 60F and 20C/70F it should be fine.

Last week last Friday evening, 18th June, as the temperature did drop on Saturday and the remainder of this week I did the repot!

See the 2 picture I only made, as I wanted to report quickly.
I did open up de the edge and the bottom of root ball with the chopstick a bit and untangle as much as possible. So I did do small root pruning, on the edge and bottom around 1/4 inch or less even.

I did try to open the top with the chopstick as well, and did apply water pressure to try to washing it out as much as possible. Like on the video from Peter., but was really hard to get any of the darker stuff removed. I did find intact big Kanuma pieces, but they are way bigger than the Kanuma I used.

It was almost impossible to remove some of the top soil. So maybe spring 2023 I need to go a bit harder on the top part. But now in this bigger pot is should gain strengt over that time. as it will not be root bound anymore.

Now I hope to get some more leaf mass on it next weeks.

This are the foto’s of today

Hi Klaas, you were right to repot. I have only just repotted my azaleas. This was because it was too cold in april followed by too wet in May to do it them. So I let them flower first. What it does mean is there will be less time to grow foliage before winter. If your winters freeze you’ll need to give it protection.
The reason why there isn’t so much foliage is because the summer foliage dies off in autumn. The leaves that remain are winter resting leaves and are there to protect the flower buds.
If you would rather sacrifice next years flowers to allow for more severe pruning and development then the normal time for dis-budding is November.

Yes, I am in the Netherlands so very to the UK. We had the same cold spring and wet may.

I think my Azalea that I did buy did flower already as it was in a greenhouse. And they did prune it after the flowering. So it feels I got a mass production tree that was living in the pot for many years, but the price was right and it my first Azalea to my bonsai collection :slight_smile:

I think the tree is doing great and we have a mild week now so it is recovering now. ( 1 week after repot.) I want to start fertilising next end of next week. wdyt? too soon ?

Hi Klass, Sorry for the delay. Hopefully you didn’t fertilise I would wait for about a month or longer if growth is slow. I have yet to do mine as they haven’t got their motors at full throttle yet.
If you look at the way the Japanese mass produce azaleas you’d be amazed. Literally thousands and thousands of cuttings are struck and grown on in polytunnel hot houses. So as long as you like the tree it doesn’t matter. And you have years ahead of you to grow it on and play with.

I will start next week giving it some some fertilization, but it looks some new growth is arriving.
I know it is a factory default azaleas - But for now good for me to start playing with his azaleas as a species and learn.

Klaas Jan

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