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Classroom Corner – A Tale of Two Satsuki Azaleas

An open window into the comings and goings of students and their trees attending our regular weekend and midweek bonsai classes under the ever watchful eyes of John Hanby.

Classroom Corner – A Tale of Two Satsuki Azaleas
Last weekend we had our Satsuki Azalea workshop class.This brought a good mix of trees, some small and some large. Most required pruning and some required repotting.
Obviously all the students wanted advice on their own tree. The two trees we are discussing here were not as strong as in previous years. You can see some leaf discolouration and the foliage is generally sparse especially in the weaker apex area.
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Similar characteristics are visible but the causes appear to be totally different. With the first tree the compost is far too wet and the roots are showing signs of rot. We actually placed the rootball outside in full sun during the lunch break to try and help it dry out.
This tree was repotted and needs to be watered very carefully during the coming months.
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With the second tree the problem appears to be that the rootball is too dry. The main central part of the rootball is very solid. When it is watered most of the water will run off the surface and not penetrate the centre of the rootball below the trunk.
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Holes are made in the rootball around the trunk using a screwdriver to ensure that some water can now penetrate and filter through to the lower sections of the pot. Once again the method of watering will have to change and be meticulously controlled in the coming months.
This is a regular occurrence in bonsai……similar symptoms, different causes…..different remedies. Sometimes you have to think things through before you act!