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Old 15-03-2003, 06:44 PM
mep5380
 
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Default [IBC] Azaleas Shedding Bark

I overwintered some container azaleas by burying them in the ground
(still in their 3 gal nursery pots) and then mulching them up to a few
inches around their trunk. They are Glenn Dale Festive azaleas and are
supposed to be evergreen. Well, I noticed them dying out and shedding
leaves from the inside about a month ago, and was a little concerned,
but they stayed very green at their tips so I left them undisturbed.
Now, it's a beautiful day today, sunny and 70's, so I decided to dig
them out and clean them up even though they still seem to be dormant.
But, when I removed the mulch from their trunk base, I noticed that the
bark seems to be shedding back for that portion of the trunk that was
under the mulch. I scratched the fresh exposed surface to see if it was
heartwood or fresh bark and it appears that there is a very thin
membrane, very smooth, with a nice green cambium on the underside of
that, then a nice whitish heartwood under the green cambium layer.

Is there anything to be worried about here? It seems that a new bark is
forming and the old is shedding away, I just didn't know that azaleas
would do that. These are exceptionally nice azaleas that I have had in
training for two years now, trunk diameters are almost two inches, and
this is the year I want to downsize them to bonsai pots.

Any advise you can offer is appreciated.

Thanks,

Mike Peck
Kansas City, MO Zone 5

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Old 15-03-2003, 09:56 PM
Jim Lewis
 
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Default [IBC] Azaleas Shedding Bark

I overwintered some container azaleas by burying them in the
ground
(still in their 3 gal nursery pots) and then mulching them up

to a few
inches around their trunk.



snip


I noticed that the
bark seems to be shedding back for that portion of the trunk

that was
under the mulch. I scratched the fresh exposed surface to see

if it was
heartwood or fresh bark and it appears that there is a very

thin
membrane, very smooth, with a nice green cambium on the

underside of
that, then a nice whitish heartwood under the green cambium

layer.

Is there anything to be worried about here? It seems that a

new bark is
forming and the old is shedding away, I just didn't know that

azaleas
would do that.


Well, I was well into an answer for you when Outlook Express
pulled a Microsoft on me and performed an "Illegal Operation,"
shutting me down and losing what I'd written. Grrr!

Anyway, the gist of it was that azaleas should never be muched up
over their bark like that. They cannot take moisture against the
bark -- it rots away the old bark. This is the cause of some of
the wasp-waisted azalea bonsai you see on occasion.

There are very few after-the-fact solutions. You can cut the top
way back and hope to force some new growth in the damaged area,
then use those as sasrifice branches to try to fatten up the
trunk. Or, you can do as a friend did and air layer a new base
just above the damage. Or you can disguise the damage somehow --
perhaps by making a windswept or steeply slanting bonsai. Or you
can disguise the damage with soil (planting it a bit deep) or a
rock. None of these is particularly successful.

I have one of those narrower-at-the-soil-line azaleas (it was
that way when I got it at a very good price) and I've use the
slanting-tree-with-an-old-rock trick. It's OK, but _I_ know, and
so does anyone who looks hard.

Wish I had better news. But at least they're not dead as some
winter-mulched trees get from being nibbled upon by rodents. I
use mulch for VERY temporary protection from cold snaps, but then
I don't like in Kansas, either. I'd suggest a greenhouse or cold
frame next year.

Jim Lewis - - Tallahassee, FL - Our life is
frittered away by detail . . . . Simplify! Simplify. -- Henry
David Thoreau - Walden

************************************************** ******************************
++++Sponsored, in part, by Evergreen Gardenworks++++
************************************************** ******************************
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http://www.internetbonsaiclub.org/ --
+++++ Questions? Help? e-mail +++++


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