Spring work on a Kurume Azalea

Peak bloom was very nice this year. This Kurume produces three flowers per bud. Normally I remove 2 and leave one per bud, but that is time-consuming and this year I just didn’t get to it. It made for a very bright, but congested show. It also meant a lot of weight was hanging on each branch.

Time to remove the flowers, as they peak quickly and fade fast. The top and back shows they’re already beginning to wither. Once they wither, it makes their removal more challenging than when you can grab the flower and cut it off at the base, including everything down to the husk, leaving only last year’s leaves in place.

This tree is getting big, more than 32″ wide at this point. The pot is 19″. This is gonna take a while…

A time-lapse of the next 2 hours…

Time to clean up…

A few cool shots around the tree during the work:

Next steps are to get some of the weeds out of the soil. For some reason oxalis has moved in and wants to take over.

Also, probably time to deal with that rot in the back. All the punky wood was scraped out, and a couple drainage holes were drilled through, so water won’t collect. Then, a liberal coat or two of PC Petrifier was applied.

Next up, scraping away the top 1/2″ of the old soil, and replaces with fresh.

Peter Warren stated that azaleas tend to constrict themselves over time, and get old. Look at old azaleas and you can see that the twigs get very thin and it makes transport of water up and sugars down difficult, weakening the tree over time. It’s important to keep them young with hard pruning occasionally. So after a week of rest and heavy doses of organic feeding, the tree hopped into the barber chair for a haircut. Before:

After:

The tree was reduced by about 25%…or this much:

With some luck, the tree with bud back strongly and next year I can continue to replace old ramification with new, and rejuvenate the Bonsai.

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