Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Time Is Right to Transplant Evergreen Azaleas, Rhododendrons

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Time Is Right to Transplant Evergreen Azaleas, Rhododendrons

Article excerpt

Q: We have a mature PJM rhododendron which grew under the combined spreads of a holly tree and a magnolia tree. I want to transplant that shrub to another part of the yard as soon as possible. Can I successfully transplant it now? I prefer not to wait until after blooming.

A: Evergreen azaleas and rhododendrons such as PJM can be transplanted almost any time, except during hot, dry summer weather or when the ground is frozen in winter. Even plants that are in bloom can be moved with success.

Azaleas have shallow, fibrous, loose roots that are often wide-ranging. Don't be alarmed if the root ball falls apart. Roots may extend several feet in every direction, and are frequently located just beneath the mulch, growing right on top of the soil. Azaleas and rhododendrons have a symbiotic relationship with beneficial soil fungi called mycorrhizae, which enable the roots to take up water and nutrients and are essential to the plants' survival. Mycorrhizae should not be confused with the fungi that cause diseases of azaleas. When transplanting healthy azaleas, always move some of the old soil and organic mulch duff to inoculate the soil at the new site. Choose a new site that is protected from winds and has excellent drainage. PJM's do well where they receive some morning sunlight and high shade throughout the rest of the day. I assume you have already tested the soil and made any necessary adjustments to lower the pH to between 5.0 to 6.0, and thoroughly worked in about 4 to 6 inches of organic matter to p repare the planting site. Q: I would appreciate knowing how to cut a rhododendron bush that is getting too tall. Also, can any of the cuttings be rooted? A: The larger leafed rhododendrons should be pruned at a joint just above a whorl of leaves, as this is where the dormant growth buds are situated. Small leafed rhododendrons and azaleas can be pruned anywhere along a stem, because these plants have dormant growth buds nearly everywhere, though they may not be easily seen. Light maintenance pruning should be done immediately after flowering. Buds for next spring's blooms will form this summer and fall on the new growth that begins later this spring. If you prune after midsummer, you probably will remove next spring's flowers. In those rare instances when azaleas or rhododendrons have grown so large that drastic size reduction is required, they can be rejuvenated by renewal pruning. This is best done in stages over a period of several years, rather than all at once. In late winter, cut back one or two of the old trunks to 6-inch stubs. New shoots will sprout in spring; as they grow, save just two or three vigorous, well-placed shoots on each stump and remove all others. Pinch out the tips by mid-summer to encourage branching. Additional trunks can be removed as needed in subsequent years until the entire shrub has been cut back. …

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