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House Plants/Health of my braided tree.

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Question
I have an azelea tree , braided. Some of the leaves r not soft anymore, seems to be dry even. I see falling leaves when i shake it a bit. I have brought in indoors for the winter, as i live in Manitoba Canada. I also have noticed there is bugs in the dirt, look like a long kinda spider or worm, they seem to come up to the top of the dirt when i move the dirt around, and try and catch them. What do i do, I want to keep my tree healthy. Should i transplant it? now that it is inside. I had it outside for the summer. What should i look for or how should i take care of the leaves. The tree is about 3 maybe 4 feet tall.
 Please tell me what to do. Thank-you very much.

Sincerely Wonda

Answer
Wanda,

Azaleas love cool temps and fresh air. They do best outside in the warmer months. Indoors they need lots of light, cool temps maybe in an insulated attached garage that doesn't freeze or in a spare bedroom with the heat turned off to that room, and soil that is kept constantly moist, but not left standing in water. Even a single episode of drying out can damage the tree severely or kill it. Leaving it sit in a drain tray full of water can rot the roots and attract fungus gnats. That may be the larva that look like worms in the soil. Always empty the drain trays of all your plants after watering. House plants are not swamp plants. If you cant pick them up then use a turkey baster to suck excess water out of the drain tray. High humidity also helps. Fertilize with an acid-based fertilizer (Miracid) when it is growing actively. Indoors give it as much sun as possible because it is still only getting light from one side so it cannot get too much.

New flower buds are formed in the summer and are much larger than leaf buds. It is best to keep the plant in a semi-shady cool place outdoors in summer. Cool temps of about 50 degrees in the winter are important for setting buds. So in the fall, let it stay outdoors until the temperatures are close to freezing. Then bring it indoors and put in a sunny window.

In the spring enjoy the flowers then immediately prune it back by about one-third following its spring blooming period, particularly long stems without many leaves. Then move it outside for the summer and follow the instructions above. If you have more questions feel free to write again. Good luck!

Darlene

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Darlene K. Kittle

Expertise

I have been an Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years and I raise around 300 houseplants and bonsai trees a year including tropicals, succulents, and cacti. I have also been a professional plant care person for businesses in the Fort Wayne, IN area and currently professionally care for bonsai trees for my customers.

Experience

I am also studying the Japanese art of bonsai with tropical plants and is President of the Fort Wayne, IN Bonsai Club.

Organizations
Fort Wayne, iN Master Gardeners. President of the Fort Wayne Bonsai Club. Allen County Master Gardeners

Education/Credentials
I am not a hortculturist. I am a Purdue University Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years. I have studied plants on a personal level by growing hundreds of plants annually for the last 35 years. I have also studied under several nationally known American Bonsai experts.

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