rhody wilting: drought or rot?
Spring has finally sprung after a particularly long and hard winter here in NJ. I have begun inspecting my gardens and, sadly, I have discovered two rhododendrons I put in two years ago look terrible. I saved them from the deer but I think I'm going to lose them to something else now. About half of the leaves are turning an unattractive army green and curling up. I pruned a dying stem and cut it in a few places; where it was attached to the plant the stem was green throughout, but the higher up I trimmed, the more brown I found inside the stem. At the top there was really no green inside at all.
What I cannot tell from reading on the topic is if the plants have Phytophthora Root Rot or if they need water. We've only been above freezing during the day for about a week now, so it seems too cold for a fungus to do so much damage already. The soil around the base of the plants is moist (but not wet), so I am not sure that the wilt is being caused by drought either. And it seems unlikely the plant is lacking water since we've had significant snow melt in the last few weeks. Can anyone help me try to determine the cause here? Wilt caused by drought and wilt caused by rot just seem to manifest in such similar ways... I am going to try to post pictures to aid in dignosis if I can figure out how.