1) A friend in NYC has two established Rhodis and has heard that they
should not be fed until after they flower. The only reason I can
think of for this would be that nitrogen will encourage foliage at the
expense of flowers. But I have also heard that nitrogen encourages
all growth, including flowers. I'm planning to use the normal
Peter's Rhodondendron/Azalea blue crystaline food. I believe it's
24-12-12. Any thoughts on whether I can feed now?
2) Also, I'm planning to fertilize all beds, including the above one
with a commerical sand and manure (chicken and other, I believe)
product. Will I be providing too much nutrition if I feed and
compost? In the Rhodi bed I am not digging it in because of other
senitive roots (Lilly of the Valley) underfoot.
3) Are the lillies vulnerable to the high nitro or acidity of the
Rhodi food and fertilizer? I'm not uure what's been done here in the
I would wait until the chance of frost is gone. That is May 15 where I
live in Zone 6. Plants that have been given a soil mixture rich in
organic matter probably will not need feeding for several years. Do not
stimulate fast growth because it produces long weak stems and few
flowers. But if a plant seems weak or sickly, use cottonseed meal or a
special rhododendron-azalea-camellia-holly fertilizer such as Peters or
Hollytone dusted on the soil in early spring. Supplemental feeding later
is not normally needed, but phosphorus and potassium may be applied any
Fertilizing after mid summer in a northern climate promotes tender
growth in the fall which doesn't harden off before the first frosts of
winter. This gets killed by the frost. This growth may have the buds for
next years flowers on it which would also get killed by the frost.
Rhododendron have shallow roots. Never cultivate around a rhody. This
sounds like way to much nitrogen fertilizer for the rhodies. It will
make them leggy and prevent buds from setting. Here is a better option:
I have found the following foolproof formula for chlorotic leaves or a
rhododendron that isn't looking healthy:
Purchase a bag of Epsom Salts crystals (magnesium sulfate) (available
here in bulk at farm-and-feed outlets), about $4.00 for a 5 lb. bag -
and a bottle of FULLY Chelated Iron & Zinc (this is a very concentrated
liquid - the chelation means it is in a form that can be readily
absorbed by the plant), about $7.00 for 1 quart; In a one gallon
watering can, put in 2 Tbsp. of E.S. crystals and 2 Tbsp. of Iron and
Zinc liquid - fill with warm water and stir to dissolve; Sprinkle this
over the rhododendron - by that I mean drench the leaves with the
solution and pour the remainder around the drip line of the root ball.
In 1-2 weeks, the leaves should be nice and green. You could repeat the
process at this time if the leaves aren't fully green.
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