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Azalea (rhododendron) is one of the most luxurious plants, the flowering of which pleases the eye in cold weather. Despite this, it is quite demanding to care for and, if neglected, can give the impression of a disposable plant.
Carefully selected soil is an important part of azalea 'wellness'. Our article has answers to all questions about a suitable soil for a plant.
Features of the soil, which is needed for indoor and outdoor rhododendron
Regular soil used for planting other plants is unlikely to work for azaleas. since the roots of rhododendron contain important fungal symbiont microorganisms (read about the role of roots in the life of an azalea and about the rooting of a flower here).
With their help, the plant receives the nutrients necessary for life from the soil, in case of their death, the plant loses its vitality. The existence of these microorganisms is due to an environment with a high acidity content.
Which land does the flower love and which one does not?
In order for the azalea to feel comfortable, the soil must have moisture and water permeability, be light and rather loose, containing the necessary acidity, a large amount of humus and nutrients, and retain moisture well.
Neutral soil is categorically not suitable for planting, this is justified by the fact that the acids and alkalis contained in it are completely balanced and lead to neutralization of each other. It is highly not recommended to use crushed limestone as drainage, as it alkalizes the soil, making it less acidic.
Reference. Do not add ash to the soil and use fertilizers containing chlorine and lime.
- Coniferous soil is an indispensable component for specially created soil.
- Leafy soil enhances acid reactions.
- Peat creates a mineral balance for the soil.
- River sand, perlite - soil loosening agents.
- Chopped pine bark (steamed) - an additional component that is an acidifier for the soil.
- Sphagnum moss and charcoal have a disinfecting effect.
- Expanded clay acts as a drainage.
Consider what soil pH is suitable for rhododendrons and how you can acidify the soil. pH should be at the level of 3.5-5.5 and not go beyond these limits, if it is increased, then it is necessary to raise the level of soil acidity. High-moor peat, rotted coniferous litter, as well as sawdust, leaf compost, fresh manure, and sphagnum moss are well suited for this.
Heavy clay soils are acidified with the minerals listed below:
- Colloidal sulfur. It is used for a significant change in acidity: the introduction of 1 kg of granular substance per 10 m2 lowers the pH by 2.5. It is advisable to apply before winter, to a depth of 10-15 centimeters. The result appears in 8-12 months.
- Ferrous sulfate. Used to reduce acid levels quickly and gently. When applying 0.5 kg of powder per 10 m2, the pH decreases by 1. The result comes in a month.
- For light acidification of the substrate, ammonium nitrate is used in the spring, ammonium sulfate for the autumn digging, and potassium sulfate in the fall.
A quick result is provided by acid solutions:
- Citric acid solution. Preparation: A couple of teaspoons of citric acid are mixed with a bucket of water.
- A solution of sulfuric acid or unused electrolyte. Preparation: 50 ml of electrolyte is diluted in 10 liters of water, the volume of the solution is used per 1m2 of the sown area.
- A solution of 9% vinegar. Preparation: Mix in a ratio of 100 ml to 10 liters of water. This option is the worst because it gives a short-term effect and destroys the soil microflora.
Ready soil or DIY soil - which is better?
Azaleas are well suited not only ready-made soil, but also self-made. It is advisable for novice gardeners to use ready-made soil so that the soil contains the exact proportions of all the necessary substances.
Important! The choice of ready-made mixtures should be approached responsibly, since there are a very large number of manufacturers who produce various soil for plants. Their quality and price vary greatly.
It is also necessary to remember that the soil purchased in the store cannot be stored for a long time. Its shelf life is limited to two years due to reduced nutritional properties.
For people with experience in mixing, self-priming is the best option. This is argued by the fact that you yourself control the preparation and composition of the mixture, the environmental friendliness and quality of its components.
Is the earth suitable?
From rhododendron to other plants
Azalea soil is perfect for less demanding plants, which give their preference to soils with high acidity.
It is suitable for plants such as:
- heather plants;
From other plants to the flower itself
The main difficulty in growing an azalea is its "capriciousness" - this is what does not allow, in the overwhelming majority of cases, to use the soil of other plants for planting it.
Description of options from the store
Currently, the options for soil sold in specialized stores are very diverse. Each grower can choose the composition that suits, in his opinion, the best. An indisputable advantage is the content of all kinds of granules and complexes of mineral fertilizers, which greatly saves the time of their selection.
Anthurium primer fully complies with the requirements for azalea primer, therefore, its use for azaleas is possible. But for the best result, it is advisable to purchase or prepare a special mixture, because this plant is very demanding.
"Garden of Miracles"
Shop soil "Garden of Miracles" of medium acid with a loose consistency, its contents include sand, perlite and a small amount of nutrients.
- high-moor peat mixtures;
- river sand;
- mineral fertilizer.
The composition indicated on the package corresponds to that necessary for the comfortable life of the azalea.
Fasco defines its place in the market as a professional specialized primer for rhododendrons. Its composition: low-lying peat, high-moor peat, drainage and fertilization with microelements - what provides especially beautiful and healthy flowering, accelerates the growth and development of the plant at home and in the garden.
Which store-bought mixture to choose?
In stores specializing in this topic, the choice of ready-made mixtures is very large, but soils from manufacturers such as Russian Peat (offers a completely ready-made substrate for planting), Garden of Eden (produces soil mixtures of a new generation) and Sad miracles ”(whose substrates are nutritious and contain vermicompost).
How to prepare the mixture yourself?
Let's find out which soil for rhododendron can be made by yourself, whether peat is needed in its composition. Do-it-yourself soil preparation requires absolute compliance with all proportions of substances, which are indicated below:
- Coniferous land - 2 parts.
- Leafy ground - 2 tsp
- Peat - 1 tsp
- Heather land - 1 tsp
- River sand - 1 tsp
Important! It should be noted that peat and coniferous soil are mandatory components.
To disinfect the soil, sphagnum moss or charcoal is added. Before adding moss, rinse well, dry and grind.
Perlite and river sand are loosening agents. The looseness of the earth contributes to good air and water permeability. With its lack, moisture stagnation occurs, which contributes to the development of diseases.
Expanded clay can be used as drainage. It is poured separately on the bottom of the pot with a layer of about 3-4 cm, without mixing with the soil. This avoids the formation of mold on the topsoil.
Planting a tree
Planting of seedlings is carried out in the spring. The place where the flowers will grow should be chosen with special care, it should be well lit. Partial shade is best suited, so the azalea will be protected from direct sunlight and at the same time it will be enough for its timely development. Planting depth - 50 cm, width - 70 cm.
Before adding the soil, drainage is arranged, the thickness of which should be 15-20 cm.After the rhododendron seedlings are planted, they are watered and mulched with fallen needles, moss, crushed bark (sawdust) and peat to retain moisture in the soil, and this will also serve as protection for roots from severe frosts, sunlight and pests (read about pests and diseases of azaleas here).
Planting of container seedlings is carried out during the summer and spring seasons.
Auxiliary preparations for planting:
- Fitosporin is used to prevent fungal diseases and root rot.
- Zircon helps with root mass build-up and is also an anti-stress drug.
Possible problems and ways to solve them
Falling leaves (not to be confused with deciduous azalea!), Lack of flowering, wilting are signals that the soil has been selected incorrectly. The reasons may be excessive peat content, lack of acidity or the heaviness of the earth. Transplantation is the only way to solve these problems. In the case of a lack of acidity, it must be increased.
Attention! Over time, the soil may settle. In this case, it must be filled up and mulched.
It must be remembered that soil is an important component for the life of an azalea. If the soil is selected correctly, then the plant will grow, bloom and cheer up with its beauty, so it is better to carefully approach its choice. With proper care and good conditions, azalea will no longer be a disposable plant.
We offer you to watch a video about how the soil for an azalea should be: