Andromeda dying! How do I save it!? (PICS)

oberciJune 3, 2012

(For reference, I am in Sacramento, CA 95821)

This is my first ever Pieris and I will kick myself if I've managed to kill it. It was absolutely beautiful when I got it and remained that way for about 2 months until the flowers fell off. It was all downhill from there... I'm not sure what I've done wrong but I know it must be something since I was never very clear on what the "right" thing to do was. I've read conflicting information on whether it desires more sun or less, and how much/often it should be watered, add fertilizer when I do and if so what kind, whether I should repot it... I'd like to keep it in a container but I'm so afraid that I am killing the poor thing that I don't know where to even start helping it recover.

Here are some pictures of what it looks like now :(


*You can see the flower stalks(?) left over from where all the flowers fell off. Am I supposed to remove these?

I'm happy to provide any additional info/pics needed!

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Does that pot have drainage holes? Is it planted in reasonably draining soil?

And does it sit in full sun? The black worries me about heat.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 5:12PM
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The plant is actually in a pot within that pot and both have drainage holes. It was in a very shady spot getting only a few hours of early morning sun. That was until about 2-3 weeks ago when I moved it to where it is in the photo where it gets more sun than before but still morning sun. The house provides shade for it the rest of the day.

It looks no better and no worse since I moved it.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 5:31PM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

Maybe root bound?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 8:06PM
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Would it be okay to repot this in Al's 511 mix?

If it IS indeed rootbound, do I trim the roots??

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 1:39PM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

Honestly I think it would be best suited in the ground. In a big enough container it would probably do well in the 5-1-1 mix, but that mix is really only meant to be used one season and discarded. I'm not sure about pruning the roots either, hopefully someone with more experience will chime in.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 11:38PM
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dickiefickle(5B Dousman,Wi.)

Pieris shrubs grow and flower best when planted in full sun or partial sun and shade. They will grow in full shade, but generally do not flower as well and the new foliage growth is usually not as brilliant. Be sure to provide good drainage for the plants. The soil in which they are grown should contain a high content of organic humus. This can be added at planting time, in the form of peat moss, compost or processed (bagged well-rotted) manure. I wood try re potting if it were mine and fast

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 1:34AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Dickie - when you quote someone directly, it's appropriate to give credit as due, lest someone think the advice yours and coming from your personal experience. Also, Ed wasn't talking about containerized plants - his advice was for plants planted out (as in in the landscape), so it's not applicable to container culture.

DL - the plant is in trouble. It appears to have been over-watered or over-fertilized. The symptoms are often indistinguishable. If the symptoms showed up within a week or so of a fertilizer application, suspect that as the cause. If you can eliminate over-fertilizing as the probable cause, then look to over-watering. I suspect a water-retentive medium and an over-nurturing hand on the watering can. ;-)

The plant will love a spot protected from midday sun. You could just bury the pot in the ground and hope it turns around, or you could repot. In either case, I think your facing a loss of the plant or a fairly long recovery, but it depends on how damaged the roots are.

The BEST thing would be to inspect the roots, prune them back to sound tissue if you find them rotted, and plant out. Second best would be to repot into a medium like the 5:1:1 or gritty mix .... or any recipe based on coarse particles, and set the entire pot in the ground. Third would be to as suggested immediately prior w/o putting the plant in the ground. Worst would be to take a passive approach & hope for the best after getting a handle on the watering (if that's what it was).

Is there anything else you can think of that might have had an impact on the decline?


    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 5:24PM
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Well it's definitely not from either over fertilizing or over watering since I have never fertilized it, and since I was watering only 1x every 2-3 weeks per advice from someone who obviously had no idea what they were talking about.

It was also getting very little morning sun which may have contributed as well. Could little sun, little water, and no fertilizing cause this? Lol. I feel like I answered my own question. What I really want to know is what plan of action to take in helping the poor hung recover.

I'm scared to root prune as I've never done it before. Should I only prune off rotted roots(what are these distinguished by?) and circling roots? Or should I do an overall trim? Should I take off the brown leaves or let them fall on their own?


    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 2:58AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You've almost convinced me that it might be under-watering, which is the least of the evils. It's unlikely your plant would simply collapse from too much sun, unless it had been in deep shade for a prolonged stay before you got it, and I can see it wasn't.

I can't determine how dry the plant got from here, but it doesn't like to dry down completely. If it did, then chalk it up to grower error and start keeping the plant evenly moist. Hopefully it will bounce back, but it might take a while and you might have to remove a lot of dead stuff eventually. Partially burying the pot and watering often is a good plan, as long as the spot where you sited the pot is well-drained.

Best luck!


    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 6:20AM
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