Species Specific > Satsuki Azalea Bonsai Discussion

fall blooming azalea


Leo in NE Illinois:
This is azalea 'Bloom-a-Thon Double Pink' a USA origin hybrid, bred for spring and then a repeat bloom in autumn. It probably has satsuki and mixed with other azalea types in its background. Picked it up Spring 2014 from Bill Valvanis as a young plant. It is in a 4 x 4 x 5 inch pot for scale. The flowers are large, fully double and a nice soft pink. Because I'm "shakes the clown" I had to use flash to get an image without blur, so the blue notes in the color pop too much in the image, it is a soft smooth pink with good color depth. Leaves are big for a satsuki, but small enough it could be used for any size or style normally used for azalea. It is listed as hardy to -6 F, so it is good through most of USDA growing zone 6. I will protect it in winter (I'm in 5b)
This type of hybrid might have real potential to extend the blooming season for those of us who want a flowering tree around.

This season I just let it grow, and will probably do the same next year. I want to get the feel of what it likes to do and when it flushes growth in my climate. I have not made a plan yet, so if you have suggestions, feel free to volunteer them. Right now I am thinking of keeping this under 20 inches tall, and training it so that is best enjoyed with flowers, rather than focusing on creating a tree image that is best enjoyed without flowers. The flowers are nearly 4 inches across, which is larger than most satsuki, so my future branch structure needs to allow space between layers of foliage to allow room for flowers. But this is irrelevant, first I need to grow it out more so I have enough foliage and branches that I can actually make choices.

Looking at the photos, there is a "sling shot" where the trunk branches low on the tree. I'll probably cut one side off and develop the other. It does seem basally dominant, I will have to reduce the number of branches there in spring.

It has buds developing at the end of every branch right now, in a few weeks I should have a bunch of flowers open. I may have to do the "in and out" dance to avoid frosts, but it might be worth doing that to get the flowers. I know, flowers drain energy, but right now, this little bush seems to have energy to spare. Next year, after I get photos of the autumn flower show, I'll start the pruning to force ramification, and forego the flowers until I am closer to my goal.

Leo in NE Illinois:
While writing the first post, some ideas occurred to me.

I think I'd like somewhere around 5 to 7 'tiers' of flowers when in full bloom. Since the flowers are big, I need a minimum of 3 probably 4 inches between one branch and the branch above it. This would mean my tree should be at least 12 inches to 18 inches tall, to have room for this plan. Right now it is no more than 9 inches tall, so I have a bit of growing to do.

My first branch should be about 4 inches up, the second, maybe at 6 inches up on the opposite side, the 3rd at 7 inches up and on the back, the 4th another half inch higher over the first (leaving 3.5 inches between it and the branch below). I would continue the pattern, the whole way up.

Any of the other branches will be 'sacrifice' branches, to thicken the trunk. I'll leave a bunch down low for at least one, maybe 2 seasons, remove them and let a new batch grow out in order to thicken the base.

Of course this is "formula" design, and if the tree actually co-operated would result in a pleasant but boring tree. I doubt the tree will read my post and co-operate. I plan on taking advantage of any interesting branch placement that develops. But the beauty of working with such young material is that you can really play "build a tree". My plan is to not end up with a "trained in a pine tree shape" azalea. Or the "flowering ladder". I think more like an oak, or other deciduous tree - not really a broom style, but a style where the crown is wide and spreading, consisting of several major branches originating from below. But I do need branches to extend out to support the large mass of big flowers this seems capable of creating.

Hopefully 10 years from now this will be a nice tree, good enough for local club displays and a pleasure in the garden. Actually I am delighted with it for the color right now.

"Take that! All you colorful maples, see what the dull in autumn lowly azalea can do!"

Leo in NE Illinois:
the weed is supposed to be a yellow flowered alyssum, I forget the genus & species name. The thought is to rip it out in spring and pot it up in a kusamono. It can stay with the azalea until spring, I have to find winter shelter for too many pots of plants as it is. I'm saving space this way until spring.

Nice Leo.

  I almost bought one yesterday. Need some flowers!

Good plan.



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