Tiny Buds on 4th year Chinoides Rhodo?HELP

suebot(6CT)February 26, 2007

Hi All-

I have never been successful w/azaleas or rhodies but about 3 springs ago I bought a Rhodo Catawbiense "Chinoides" and it has never bloomed. This morning after our lovely snowfall I was looking at the tiny, tiny buds if you can even call them that! This rhodie hasn't seemed to grow much in the 3 years I have had it. I purchased it in a gallon planter if not 2 gallon from Stew Leonards and need your sage advice. Should I give it some triple super phosphate? or maybe something else? How much and when? It is sited in a SE exposure. Actually I wanted to get a few more rhodies but I can't seem to make them flower.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanking you in advance,

suebot in CT

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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Are the leaves a healthy green? If so the soil acidity should be OK. It might be low on phosphorus or potassium. It think your tiny buds are foliage buds, not flower buds. Hopefully I am wrong, but I don't think so. There is nothing you can do now to make it bloom this year. But what you do now will make it bloom next year.

First and foremost it needs good drainage and not too much water but some during a drought.

Second, it needs sunlight which you seem to have.

Third, it needs good soil. I would add some Hollytone before the leaves open this spring. Use at half the rate recommended on the container. Do not dig around the roots, they are very shallow and easily damaged.

Fourth, it may be root bound. If you didn't open up the roots when you planted it, they may be strangling each other. The only way you can tell this is to dig it up and look. The roots must be kept moist when you do this or it will die. When you plant it you must open up the roots. I fun a box knife down from top to bottom on 4 sides of the root ball to cut any roots growing circularly.

Fifth, make sure you mulch it. This won't make it bloom, but it will help keep it happy and healthy.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to grow rhododendrons and azaleas.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 5:14PM
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suebot(6CT)

Hi Rhodyman-

I think you are correct about the buds being leaf buds. Being such a novice I never even thought about where the leaves come from. I must say that nothing has ever thrived in front of my foundation which is the area the rhodie is in. I have 2 scrawny Fairies and a out of shape female holly that I would hate to loose but must shape up. Also we have planted and pulled out 2 sets of arborvitaes that we bought w/my brother and his are beautiful but the deer have stripped mine but still they never looked good. Maybe my soil is poor or not very deep. These beds were there when we moved in 12 yrs ago. Hostas,astilbes, bleeding hearts, and pacysandra do well in this area but that is all. What can I add to the soil to enrich it and make it healthy?

Thanks,
suebot in CT

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 11:18AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Usually beds near masonry foundations tend to be affected by lime in the cement or mortar and become alkaline which is very harmful to rhododendrons. Since your leaves weren't getting yellow between green veins, I assume that is not your primary problem.

Rhododendrons are easy to transplant. They have very shallow roots. I would dig a nice bed in a area that gets sun but some shade. It doesn't have to be very deep, but needs good drainage. You can even make a raised bed in your foundation area. Then plant it. I like a mix of half native soil and half peat humus. Then make sure the plant is raised slightly when planting. Mulch it with a good pine bark or similar mulch. See my website for more details:

Here is a link that might be useful: How to grow rhododendrons and azaleas.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 11:54AM
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