Flowering of a Chinzan Satsuki Azalea – Murphy’s Law

I started this ‘Chinzan’ satsuki azalea from a nursery gallon plant about 17-18 years ago. It was grown in a flower bed for about 7-8 years, lifted and trained as a bonsai in a pot since then.

I prepared this tree for the April 11-14 American Bonsai Society Convention hosted by the Houston Bonsai Society, and expected it to have partial blooms based on past experience. Unfortunately we had several days of unusually cold weather in late March; as a result the Chinzan was covered with swelling buds but not a single bloom during the show. A week later, flowers started to come out and had about 80%  blooms by the following week. So it went from a tree with no flower to fully covered with flowers, but only after the show! A bummer.

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At the show on April 14, 2019.

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One-Year Progression of A Shohin Chinzan Satsuki Azalea Bonsai

The purpose of this post is to show how to care for and maintain an imported satsuki azalea during the first year by selective pruning, encourage back budding and developing ramification of the branches.

I purchased this shohin “chinzan” satsuki azalea pre-bonsai from David Kreutz of the Satsuki Bonsai-En in April, 2014, at our state bonsai convention. This satsuki was imported, bare-rooted, from Japan about 3-4 months ago. It has a beautiful nebari and trunk taper. Since it was a newly imported tree, I removed the flower buds and let it gained strength for the rest of the year.


Front of the tree, 02/25/2015.

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Satsuki Azalea Flowers

In Southeastern Texas, satsuki azaleas bloom about a month earlier than in other parts of the US, from April to May. All my satsuki have flowered, and flowers of some cultivars were already gone. Some late bloomers, such as Chinzan, Nikko and Wakaebisu are still in flowers but they are definitely past their peaks. I will remove all flowers and unopened flower buds next week, and fertilize generously to thank them for brightening up my garden. I like to share photos of those flowers I took over the last few weeks.


Chinzan, Osakazuki and Wakaebisu. Flowers in some trees are already gone in mid-May.




Hakurei. I like their small white flowers with laceolate petals.

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How to Bare Root Repot a Satsuki Azalea Bonsai

In this post, I will show the steps on how to bare-root repot a nursery stock satsuki azalea into a bonsai or training pot. I live in Zone 9, mid March to end of April are the best times to do bare-root repotting for azalea.

This “wakebisu” satsuki azalea was repotted on March 10, 2014. It was in a black plastic pot and the soil had broken down and became water-logged.



Use a strong water jet to wash out the old soil, and use a pair of tweezers to unentangle and tease the roots outwards. Be careful to keep as much fine roots as possible. Repeat this process until all the old soils are completely removed. This is the most time consuming step.


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Satsuki Azalea Bonsai

These two mid-size “wakaebisu” and “chinzan” satsuki azaleas were grown from nursery plants for over 10 years. They spent their first 6-8 years in flower bed to thicken the trunks and were trained into bonsai. A photographer friend took the two photos when they were in full blooms at our bonsai show last May. The photos below them were taken a few days ago. They have not yet flowered, but in about one to two weeks they would suddenly be covered with flowers.

Houston Chinese Bonsai Society Show 2014-1

“Wakaebisu” satsuki azalea with  ‘hose-in-hose’ salmon color flowers in May, 2014. Height: 13″


Same tree, April 2015, no flowers yet, lots of buds and new leaves.

Houston Chinese Bonsai Society Show 2014-2

“Chinzan” satsuki azalea, May, 2014.  Height: 12″.


The same “Chinzan”, April 2015, waiting for the flowers to come out.


Mame “Chinzan”, styled from a nursery gallon plant. Height: 4″.


Multi-trunk shohin “chinzan” from 3 gallon nursery plant. Height: 8″.