Yellow azalea leaves – Questions and Answers Bonsai

azalea bonsai

Response : Yellow azalea leaves

Dear Luciana,

azaleas are among the most used plants in Japan to form bonsai; the fact that these plants produce small leaves, and also small flowers, with wrinkled and twisted stem, makes them perfect bonsai, with great satisfaction for growers. Unfortunately, they are not plants of very easy cultivation, and in my opinion they are not a good bonsai from which to start, especially if you live in Reggio Calabria.

The azaleas belong to the genus rhododendron, and are native to much of the globe, even in Italy there are endemic species, Italian species are widespread in the Alps and the Apennines, while the areas of Asian origin are Tibet, and the highlands near the Himalayan mountain range, are therefore plants accustomed to living in a cool and humid climate, quite different from that present in your city.

If you read any manual for the cultivation of bonsai azaleas, he will advise you to place your pot in a place where it enjoys a few hours of direct sunlight, well exposed to air and light, with good humidity. Honestly, a combination of this type, in Reggio Calabria, I think is difficult to obtain, because the sun is hot, from May to September, and the air is salty, given the proximity of the sea.

The result is a dehydrated plant; if, to compensate for the lack of humidity, you go and water it very often, the soaked soil will encourage the birth of fungi in the substrate of cultivation, with great ease. Azaleas are acidophilic plants, and as such they do not like water rich in limestone, and need a special soil; in the case of bonsai azaleas, we use a specific soil for acidophilic plants, called Kanuma, not easy to find anywhere in Italy.

Therefore, the problems which render the yellow leaves can be manifold: air too dry, excess of direct sunlight, salty air, calcareous water. The problem of water is solved quite easily, in addition to providing the right soil, it is good to prepare a watering can full of water, even the tap, and let it rest for at least a couple of days, before using it for watering, so that the limestone deposits, being a single bonsai, a full watering can is enough for days.

As for the heat and the sun, keep your plant in a semi-shaded area from May to September, away from the direct but well-lit sun. Avoid exposing it to the strong wind, if it comes from the sea; and vaporize frequently the leaves, with the water of the watering, to improve the ambient humidity, but do it in the early hours of the morning, not in the warm hours of the day, and not in the evening.

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