You probably recall that I recently asked about container-shrubs for my
area (Rockaway, NYC). On your advice, I got a couple of azaleas. Now my
question is, should the root ball be totally submerged in the planter, or
should the top of it be level with the soil level in the planter?
Also, I purchased a bag of fertilized potting soil that should about half-
fill the container. I planned on mixing in about equal quantities of peat
moss and compost. Most sites I've read suggested fertilized the soil at
least once- that seems like overkill, given what's going in there already.
Thoughts and advice, please?
Oh- I also bought a lilac for the yard. I have the same question about the
root ball- deep or shallow? Thanks again.
DO NOT USE POTTING MIX THAT CONTAINS FERTILIZER FOR AZALEAS. Azaleas,
very much like camellias, prefer a "lean" soil without an abundance of
nutrients. On top of that, no new plant should be fed until after the
roots recover from the trauma of being planted; until then, fertilizer
will promote roots rotting. (An exception is made for some annuals,
which may be planted in enriched soil.)
The ideal potting mix for azaleas in a container can be seen at my
<http://www.rossde.com/garden/garden_potting_mix.html . This is a
do-it-yourself mix. Note on that page the adjustment needed for such
acid-loving plants as azaleas. Also, the nutrients indicated there will
not be immediately available, allowing time for the roots to recover.
However, I would cut the bloodmeal in half. The addition of compost
provides beneficial soil bacteria that will eventually make the
I feed my azaleas only with commercial camellia, azalea, and
rhododendron food. This is a slow-acting, mild fertilizer. I feed them
once a year, when they have finished blooming. When I had 'Inga'
azaleas -- which had multiple bloom periods from early spring until late
summer -- I fed them after their first bloom of the year.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
Maintain the same depth as the plant was grown in it's container.
Do NOT use fertilized potting soil for ericacious plants (azalea) .
These soils are great for things like impatiens and fuscias but not so
good for trees and shrubs.
The first year I would not be inclined to feed anything.
You can make the planting area an inch or two lower than the
surrounding ground to capture water but inside this you maintain the
plant at the same depth it was when grown in the pot or at the nursery.
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