Satsuki Azalea, ‘Matsunami’ … maybe?

This was from a buddy in Mobile. He and I exchanged some Satsuki cuttings, and I think I definitely got the better end of the deal. The cultivar is unknown, but I’m wondering if it is a Matsunami. Here is the parent tree:

And here is the cutting, along with some close-ups of the varied individual flowers.

A few examples on the ‘Matsunami’

Satsuki Mania:

http://satsukimania.com/en/varieties/317-matsunami

Back Yard Gardener:

https://www.backyardgardener.com/plantname/rhododendron-hybrida-matsunami-satsuki-azalea/

Choux Creme:

https://chouxcreme1.wordpress.com/2016/06/19/rhododendron-indium-matsunami/

Kurume Azalea after the show

I’ve been cooped up with the rest of the country, so this tree got the full spa treatment. Removing blooms is getting to be a big task, as the tree has grown to about 32″ wide. So let’s start off with a few money shots at peak bloom before we jump in.

And now the work begins.

Remove all flower parts, down to the husk of the flower:

A close up of spent blooms:

Cut here:

To end up like this:

Then, prune back fairly hard. As azaleas age, the branches constrict and the cambium becomes thin, so it’s important to prune hard to keep renewing the tree with young growth. I cut back branches to pairs of evenly-sized shoots, and replace heavy branches with finer branches.

Here is a close up example of pruning back a typical branch with multiple whorls, long internodes, and upward growth:

Cut here:

To end up with this:

Another example where outer growth is getting old and weaker:

See this area, how it hasn’t really started moving yet?

Prune back, leaving balanced new growth to replace the older growth on the ends:

The end result is a little rough to start with, but with a few weeks of growth, the tree will look renewed, and I can hope for strong new growth throughout the tree.

Before:

After:

Closer shots, before and after of some branches.

Upper left:

And lower right:

Underside the left trunk shows taper of branches, pruning back to pairs, and fairly even spacing to allow for balanced growth:

I have grown this azalea in a bonsai pot for 15 years now, and never given it a break from blooming. I think this year, I’ll remove the flower buds as they form and give it next year off.

At some point, I knew I’d have to address the rot at the split in the trunks on the back. It had become soft.

So, using a long drill bit, I bore a hole through to the bottom of the pot to help drain away water.

Then, clean away all the soft wood using a gouge.

Apply a preservative, I use water-based PC Petrifier.

After

And a video walk around:

https://youtu.be/53lR-NURqso

Next year, I’ll repot, and prune more conservatively. For now, the tree is returned to the bench, with a heavy dose of acidic organic fertilizer, and allowed to grow for the summer.

Satsuki Azalea, ‘Kinsai’ cleanup…x2

As the show winds down, from this (May 2018):

To this:

It’s time to remove the flowers, pruning to remove the branches sporting the fat-petal flowers while it’s still easy to tell which are which.

Then trim it back:

And lightly wire:

A few weeks later and it’s filling out nicely.

Fast-Forward to April 2019, nearly a full year later. The tree is growing well and within a month of flowering. I’m debating about the front, and have been toying with this front, which gives the appearance of a cascading first branch. If I go with this front, I’ll re-orient the tree in its pot to center it and keep the exposed roots upright and not leaning. I like the widening canopy as well.

Here is the tree in bloom, 2019:

And in our club show, just a little past peak blooming:

And over Memorial Day Weekend 2019, I had a chance to clean it up again. From this:

To this, with a rough trimming to start:

Finally, flowers removed, and more pruning done. Here is the final result: