2017 Repotting: Kurume Azalea

This azalea has been very infrequently repotted; 2008, 2012, and now in 2017.  Azalea roots are fibrous, shallow, and small. They dry out quickly in the air, so it is important to keep a hose nearby.  It’s been in this production-grade Chinese pot for 9 years, and while it was a good fit, it is ready for a better pot.  



Except for an occasional aeration and top-dressing, it’s been repotted into straight kanuma each of the last two repots.  Here are the roots, combed out; and as expected, even after 5 years since the last repot:


This time, I added a bit of pumice and lava.  The automatic watering system seems to keep things just a little on the wet side, and this should dry just a bit faster:


Before the reveal…and just for fun, here is a look back 10 years…2007:

And 2017:

The new pot is a larger Aiba Koyo; 18.5″ wide, green glaze over a dark clay. The effect is very similar, as this pot is only a couple inches wider. It works pretty well. Can’t wait for blooming season!

The cycle continues: Hawthorn part 3

Picking up where we left off last week, in the summer of 2016:


Fall color was nice:


And in January 2017, it was pruned back, to replace too-heavy branches with thinner ones, prune long shoots back to a couple buds, and reduce whorles to pairs.  

So let’s review.  Nearly 3 years ago, here was the tree:


And here was the advice received from a couple pros:

•Not much taper in upper primary branches. Normal for deciduous trees, but it does catch your eye.

•Trunk goes right, top goes left; straighten trunk in pot, fix branches.

•Grow center branch out to thicken it.

•Shorten left branch; too long and straight.

•Middle branches pointing down, lower branches pointing up; make low branches point down, middle branches point out, high branches point up.

•Open area exposes 3 branches at same height.

•Balance foliage; upper left and lower right are strong, upper right and lower left are thin.

Now, fast-forward to February 2017 and it’s time to prune.  Before:


After:

The cycle continues: Hawthorn part 2

In February 2016, the buds were swelling and it was time to try a graft to add a branch in a space that really needed to fill in.

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Close-up:

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Hawthorns have thin bark and callus rather slowly, so I don’t know how it’s going to take. However, the area will have plenty of access to sunshine and branches can grow fast in the spring, so we’ll see. A thread-graft was the safest choice, and I’d identified a candidate.

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Drilled a hole; going in through the out door:

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Fish the scion through carefully, trying to preserve some buds on the way through:

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A twig from the same tree used as a wedge, and a little wire to hold things in place:

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And a good seal of cut putty is placed around both ends of the graft:

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Next up, some spring pruning. I went pretty aggressive in the winter of 2014, and I noticed that while the tree didn’t back-bud too strongly, it did grow well; meaning the bare areas didn’t fill in. I need to keep riding back on the heavier branches, but I also need to take it a bit more slowly. A little at a time:

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After some pruning and wiring just a few branches, it is ready to grow for the year:

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And grow, it did. Late March:

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By mid-April, I pruned back the areas that were already thick enough; the top, upper right side, lower left. I didn’t touch any shoots that were wired, or grafted.

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Mid May, I did a bit more pruning, and moved back high branch down and to the right.
Before:

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After:

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The grafted shoot, and guy-wired upper left branch were not touched. It’s growing nicely, and I should be able to prune it back fairly soon:

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The density is improving nicely. By late June, the upper left area was thickening, and I was ready to slow its roll…

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In a span of 2 years, I was able to replace the first left branch with a smaller branch, with more movement and taper.

Branch 2 was a back branch, and it will fill in over time. With that, the apex won’t look quite so isolated up top.

Branch 3 was more problematic. I didn’t have a replacement to develop, and didn’t get one, so I had to graft one.