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What is wrong with my azalea?

I am a newbie at gardening!
In March I bought a beautiful white Azalea! I planted it with the correct compost (acidic) and everything was fine until a month ago, when the leaves started getting red/brown on the edges...
Even new leaves now look similar!
I think it is a problem with the soil, but could you advise on what to do?
I have watered them with tap water, which unfortunately is hard. I've read that this is not great for it!
I also gave it some azalea food in pellets, but it did not seem to help!

I don't want to lose it!!


  • BrexiteerBrexiteer Birmingham Posts: 955
    You sure it aint turning red for autumn 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,112
    Hi @nicole.m89- has it got adequate drainage? Although they like plenty of water, they don't like sitting in it for a long period, so they need drainage, and that kind of damage can be from over or underwatering - they look similar unfortunately. They also need air round the roots, so it could just have been sitting in soil that's a bit clogged. 
    It can also be from sitting in sun/wind, which is very drying for the foliage. They benefit form a semi shaded, to almost full shade site.
    Don't feed it just now, as that won't help  :)
    Is the pot raised of the ground too,and is it quite a buig shrub? It's harder to keep them successfully in pots, unless they have really good conditions. The pot may not be big enough.
    Don't worry too much about the water, although it will help if you can use rainwater if you're not in a soft water area of the country.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • @Fairygirl thanks for your very detailed answer!
    The pot should be big enough (we got it suggested at the garden centre) I would probably blame overwatering!
    We have a South facing garden and the pot was by the east fence... During summer when it was sunny I was watering it daily, and I guess that was not ideal...
    What can I do? Re pot it with some grit to improve drainage of water? Will it surviv
    We live in an area with very heavy soil (clay I think!) So I am not sure how well it will do on the ground! Also, we bought the house earlier this year and the garden had already a lot of shrubs (all big and green, low maintenance but boring)... We will change things but we are not sure still on what to take out!

    Thank you so much again!
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,112
    If you can put it in the ground, it'll be much happier, although it's always better to improve the planting hole with grit etc. Clay soil is a very good medium. 
    One thing that's good to check is if other neighbouring gardens grow rhodies and azaleas. That tells you the soil is suitable for them. They don't like alkaline soil, but are perfectly happy in neutral - doesn't have to be acidic   :)
    The site you have it in should be suitable though, un;ess it gets a lot of hot sun all morning. Have you been watering it overhead? That can also cause a bit of damage if it's sunny.
    If you can get it out of the pot and take a look to see what it's like down below, it's worth doing. If the drainage holes get blocked, it prevents excess water escaping. Make sure it's repotted at the same level as it was originally too.
    It could also have been dried out in hot weather, which makes it difficult to rehydrate. A good test is just to stick your finger into the soil to see what it's like.
    I should have said that if it's staying in a pot long term, it needs a soil based compost, not compost alone, as it runs out of nutrients,and also doesn't retain moisture long term. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • None of my neighbors seems very much into gardening :(
    I'm quite sure that the drainage hole is working (I saw water coming out) and I added some broken pots at the bottom before planting to help! I also always water right at the bottom... So I guess I am guilty of overwatering! Do I have to take it out to look at the roots?
    If I decide to put it in the ground by the fence on the east side, is it better to do it now or this spring?

    Thanks again @Fairygirl, you're a superstar!
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,112
    Is the soil wet when you push your finger into it? If the soil gets completely dried out - which can happen very easily - any water just runs straight through and out the bottom without dampening the soil properly.
    If that's the case, you need to immerse the plant completely in a bucket of water or similar, until it's thoroughly wet, or stand the pot in a tray or similar and leave until the water is sucked up into the plant properly. 
    Another possibility is that it was a bit pot bound when you got it. If the roots were a bit 'stuck' and solid, you need to tease them out a bit before planting, so that they don't continue to just go round and round instead of spreading out into the surrounding soil.
    I think if you give it a few weeks in a shady spot, and assuming you get some good, penetrating rain, it might be fine. It may simply be a combination of a few things, sun, wind etc,  and the autumn weather will see an improvement in it. If it's still not happy in a month, you can certainly plant it in the ground. Autumn is a good time to do that anyway. You can trim off any little dead bits after flowering, but they often drop by themselves as they produce new growth. That's also normal for any evergreen. 
    You may want to collect rainwater for it rather than tap if your water's hard, and you wnat to keep it potted. The benefit of it being in the ground is that you avoid that. I'm not sure how much that would have affected it, as we don't have that problem up here! 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,687
    If you say you don't water when the sun is out, it's most likely sun damage. They can do with a bit more shading. Unless you have drainage issues, it's very hard to over-water these shrubs. In the heat, I too water my shrubs in containers every day. It's far more easier to under-water. In addition to ericaceous compost, you should mix it in with a loam-based compost like John Innes No 3.
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