March 16th, 2010, 10:07 PM
Southern Charm Azalea- Bonsai ?
I would really like a nice azalea in the tree form, large truck and limbs. I find many on-line but they are way above my price range. I check the local "Marvins" hardware when they get azaleas in, most are bush type or small pencil trunks. I stopped by tonight and found this one, largest trunk I have seen in their stock ever. I was not sure if it would be good for bonsai and purchased with agreement I can return this week. The tag has Rhododendron x Southern Charm for the name. Does this have a future or should I return it for my $9.00?
March 17th, 2010, 05:54 AM
Putting this in a bonsai pot means you won't see any significant trunk-thickening over the next 10-15 years. Azaleas put out TONS of foliage, good branching, and even develop good nebari in a pot, but trunks seem to go into a holding pattern when you apply bonsai techniques.
If you really want "a nice azalea in the tree form, large truck and limbs", keep an eye out for landscape crews ripping out old azaleas in established neighborhoods and offer to help them for an hour or two...free of charge. THEN you'll have some trunks to work with, and a few good bonsai trees in 2 years. Azaleas have shallow root systems, are easy to collect...and are nearly indestructible in our neck of the woods. I think I still have about 12 from my last dig with a random landscape crew, and some day, a few of them could actually be something.
March 17th, 2010, 06:35 AM
Fortunately or unfortunately, you get what you pay for--and this plant is worth about nine bucks...
It has a few issues--compacted roots and upward awkward branching being a couple. It's truNk is not all that remarkable and its surface rootage looks average at best and might be non-existent.
The vast majority of good domestic azalea bonsai are made from old hedging material, not from big box store plants...You can sometimes find decent stock material at older nurseries or specialist growers, but any way you look at it, 30 gallon old containerized azaleas can cost a couple of hundred easy.
Azalea bonsai are generally not cheap and not easy to find. If you like them, you have to kind of reconcile yourself that you're going to be spending more for plants and looking harder for them, than say, elm lovers.
As was said, keep an eye out for old landscapes with old azalea hedges. Better yet, make friends with homeowners with old landscape azaleas...ask them if they'd like you to "refresh" their garden with NEW azaleas (which you could buy--again azaleas = $ ), to replace those "Old tired-looking" existing azaleas...
March 17th, 2010, 01:50 PM
One gallon, nursery-grown azalea is absolutely useless for bonsai. It is one of those 100 year-projects, as Dan Robinson put it. I have a bunch of them growing in the ground (a few dozens), and I usually take a look at them every five years. Last year I did some pruning on them, and I plan to do some more work in 2014. (I am exagerating a little, but not much, seriously).
March 17th, 2010, 02:12 PM
Hello ml_work... Yes, all the advice given to you in the thread is correct... and although it is true that you usually get what you pay for.. There can be that 1 is 1000 chance you will come across one with potential...Sometimes, you may come across some 1 gallon pot azaleas that have unusually nice nebari (surface rootage) Look for this quality and the rest may just fall into place..
I have seen azaleas with decent nebari in regular nurseries, Lowes, Home depot and other garden centers. However, they are few and far between and they will usually require a whole rework of the tree. Which woult take aroun 5-10 years at optimum growing conditions.. Also, sometimes bonsai nurseries offer these 1 gallon azaleas.
I found this, I believe, 2 gallon, about a year or so ago... The nebari was nice but the rest of the tree was terrible.. Also, the tree was not in the best health and did not survive the initial work... One thing to remember is that a tree like this will require a tremendous amount of work. Try to pick one that it is good health
March 17th, 2010, 05:08 PM
Thanks for all the quick replies! Sounds like everyone is on the same page with this one.
The idea of getting an old azalea from someone redoing the yard is a Great one, and I am always on the lookout for just that. In the small town I live in, we do have a horticulturist and street department, whom I have made friends with. Asking them for any trees they come across in pickup. When I saw this tree last night I was on an errand and saw the trunk, hoping it might just be that 1 in 1000 so I grabbed it. Last week the same Marvins had some satsuki azalea 3 gal pot. 2 really large ones, I did not pickup when I saw them, went back, yep they were gone. So that prompted me to get this, they had more, may have better trunk and nebari?
Thank you all for the Help!