Dying (hopefully recovering) Azalea

sjwilsonMay 16, 2014

I got an Azalea for Valentines Day this year. I have no idea how old it is, but I would assume it's pretty young. I read that they are supposed to be kept outside, but they don't like below 40F. Since I live in Minnesota, it was below freezing. It is now early May, and it's just beginning to reach 50 during the day. So I have been keeping it inside. We have a East-facing bay window, and I have been keeping it on the ledge where it can get sunlight.

At the time, it was blooming. After the flowers all fell off (April 6th), I did a little bit of pruning. I only cut off a couple of branches since I was worried about cutting too much. There were some new leaves that had formed by this time. They were slightly larger than the old leaves, and a brighter green. I did not remove any of those.

In the first week of May, I began to realize that the leaves were starting to brown and fall off. Tapping the tree, or even just picking up the pot would cause the leaves to drop. I thought I was under-watering it, so I started giving it more water. There was no improvement and I continued to search for possible causes. I then heard about root rot. I got supplies to re-pot it and took a look at the roots. The article that I was reading had pictures of healthy roots, and of ones suffering root rot. Most of my roots were white like the healthy picture. But there were a few that were dark brown, like the root rot picture. I cut those off and re-potted the tree into a new unused pot.

The article also said the roots could be slimy and give off a foul odor. Neither of these symptoms were present, and most off the roots looked healthy. So this gives me a little hope that it will survive. How likely is it's survival, and how long will it take to see it get better? There are very few leaves left, so how do I tell if it is dead and can't recover?

2/4/2014 When I got the tree
4/6/2014 After pruning
5/8/2014 Dying leaves
5/14/2014 More dying

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I know many who have success with them as bonsai...but planted in cactus soil holds a bit more water...yet...still draining. I would allow it to become almost dried out in between watering. I wish you success...a stressed plant does not receive fertilizer. (Even FAQ here on this site states that)

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 7:01AM
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I wouldn't put it in cactus mix. Azaleas are acid loving plants. Here on the west coast they grow like weeds and like a lot of peat moss in the soil. You just might have a plant that can't survive in your climate. Ask your nursery.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 9:39PM
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