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Growing Azaleas - Pamela

Growing Azaleas - Pamela
Posted by kimmsr from Mi-4a/5b on 2009-04-27 09:35:00

Azaleas, like all the other Rhododendrons, are understory plants of the forest and they grow best is that kind of soil. The soil they should be planted in should be well endowed with organic matter and is evenly moist but well drained. Adding organic matter to just the planting hole of any plant going into clay soil will create a hole that will be much too wet, water will accumulate in that hole and the plants roots will rot and the plant will die.
Start working on making your soil better by contacing your state universities USDA Cooperative Extension Service about having a soil test so you know what your soils pH is (and waht you need to do to grow Azaleas) as wellas the nutrient level. Also dig in with these simple soil tests,
1) Structure. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. A good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.

2) Drainage. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill that with water. After that water drains away refill the hole with more water and time how long it takes that to drain away. Anything less than 2 hours and your soil drains too quickly and needs more organic matter to slow that drainage down. Anything over 6 hours and the soil drains too slowly and needs lots of organic matter to speed it up.

3) Tilth. Take a handful of your slightly damp soil and squeeze it tightly. When the pressure is released the soil should hold together in that clump, but when poked with a finger that clump should fall apart.

4) Smell. What does your soil smell like? A pleasant, rich earthy odor? Putrid, offensive, repugnant odor? The more organic matter in your soil the more active the soil bacteria will be and the nicer you soil will smell.

5) Life. How many earthworms per shovel full were there? 5 or more indicates a pretty healthy soil. Fewer than 5, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, indicates a soil that is not healthy.
which can help guide you into making that soil better.
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