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Sun or Shade ??

San Andres, Peten, Guatemala

Now that I am a member of Daves Garden I am able to identify all the mysterious plants in my large garden and move them into the correct location for optimum performance.
I have several very small Azaleas in various locations from full Sun to cool shade.
I believe my plants are Azalea Indicum. Various sources suggest Full Sun to Shade.
Can anybody suggest from experience which is best. The photo was taken in July when the plant had a half day of full Sun.

I would also be interested to know how fast they grow. Most of mine are about 12 inches high and not very bushy. We don't have winters here, January is in the low 70s so all year is a growing season.

This message was edited Oct 10, 2008 3:09 PM

Thumbnail by johnpeten
Hurst, TX(Zone 7b)

Azaleas Indica (either the Belgian or Southern Groups) can grow 6 to 10 feet in height in 10 years. If you still have the plant label, determine the variety and mature height (you can also search the Internet for more precise information). Belgian Group Azaleas were bred to be grown in the home and are good through Zone 10 only while the Souther Group can be grown up to Zone 8.

The reason why sources suggest apparently-contradictory planting locations is because azaleas grown in the northern most states will be able to withstand the summer sun in full sun lighting conditions whereas the same azalea planted in full sun in the southernmost states would fry during the summer months. For example, up here, they have to be placed in morning sun, afternoon shade lighting conditions.

The soil needs to be moist, acidic (pH Level 4.5-5.5) and well draining. But many azaleas will tolerate less acidic soils so use a soil pH Kit to determine in what range your soil exists. If it turns out to be alkaline, you may need to ammend the soil with sulphur or iron chelated liquid products. Or, you can plant the shrub in raised beds. This is almost a given where I live because the soil is not only alkaline but clay-ish.

Water it when the soil starts to turn dry or almost dry (you can insert a finger into the soil to a depth of 4" in order to tell). If the soil is moist or wet, do not water. Use 3-4" of acidic mulch to maintain soil moisture and protect from windy locations. Azalea roots are shallow so do not perform gardening projects around these shrubs. The roots will be near the top 3-4" and do not like to be disturbed.

Since azaleas do not need fertilizers, feel free to just mulch. They will feed off the decomposing mulch. However, if your soil is defficient of minerals then do apply some fertilizer in Spring (manure, cottonseed meal, etc). You can also add coffee grounds or liquid seaweed but stop that in August.


San Andres, Peten, Guatemala

Thank you Luis. I live in the North of Guatemala where nothing is available. A little old man in a broken down pickup sometimes turns up with plants for sale. I grossly overpay him at $2 a plant. He doesn't know the name of the plant let alone the species.
It is impossible to obtain chemicals even in the mail.
I have a PH probe and my soil is neutral although we are on a limestone plateau. All my coffee grounds go to the Azaleas, Gardenias and Hydrangeas which thrive remarkable well although they should not.
So from your suggestions I will leave them in locations where they receive half a day of Sun. During our very hot Spring the sprinklers have to be used every day which should keep them cool. They look healthy and are making new growth.

At the moment it is a lot cooler high 70s low 80s with plenty of rain. Some are producing small flowers. Non indigenous plants here become very confused by our weather and behave out of character.

On DG I have discovered the identity of most of my plants with some very pleasant surprises. Always DG members are extremely helpful. Many thanks.

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