Rhododendron Brown leaves

Mid_MO5May 7, 2011

My Rhodo's are planted on the East side of the house and get morning sun, afternoon and evening shade. I bought them at Lowes and planted them two years ago in a mixture of garden soil and existing soil. Last year, I replaced two of the four plants and replaced the soil under all of them with a mixture of garden soil, peat moss, and existing soil and fertilized them with Scotts azalea/rhodo. One new one did not survive the summer. The leaves are brown and have been since planting them two years ago. I have very few green leaves. I have gotten flowers, but very few. One of the newer and one of the older plants has blooms coming. The other old one has buds, but no blooms. The buds may be dead? On the leaves, it looks like someone burned holes in them as if they dropped cigarette ash on them or something. We had a hot summer last year and a snowy winter this year. It is windy here quite often. So, what do you think? sunburn, windburn, acidity, bugs? I'm clueless and would like them to grow, but feel like I'm doing all the wrong things.

I have azaleas planted in the same area 2 years ago. I did the same soil replacement and fertilizer last year that I did to the rhodos and also had to cut them back last year due to rabbits feasting on them over the winter. This spring, they are doing great!

Any help with the rhodos would be much appreciated!


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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

The leaf damage is indicative of winter desiccation. The leaves were exposed to sun and wind when the roots were frozen. Wrapping in burlap with the top open when the ground is frozen may prevent this.

I don't see the holes you mention. Crescent shaped holes are usually cranberry rootworms. Sometimes when leaves show desiccation damage, the damaged areas gets fungal damage that can create spots and maybe holes.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 2:53PM
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Thanks for the winter tip. I will try that this winter. Do you think there is anything I can do to green it up again this summer? Am I supposed to prune the brown leaves off? If so, what time of year do I do that and where do I cut (just the leaves, or part of the stem too)?

I posted a third picture to show the graying. Any ideas on that?

Thanks again. I have never had luck with rhododendron and I'd like to figure out what I'm doing wrong.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rhodo pics

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 11:10AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

The gray is just areas where something moved in after the leaf tissue died. It is the result of the problem, not the cause.

You can remove leaves that are very bad looking, but the normal procedure is to just wait until the new leaves come out and obscure the damage.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 6:50PM
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