Help with Rhododendron leaves

shelleyh(z5 NY)May 8, 2006

I planted 2 midsize rhododendrons last summer and gave them both winter protection. One of them has tiny buds which I think are leaves but the larger under leaves are mostly light tan with a yellow patch in the center with black spots. They are also curled under sideways and very dry. The other bush is all green but without any buds. They both had flowers when I put them in the ground. What could be killing the leaves on the first plant and why haven't they grown new buds?

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waplummer(Z5 NY)

Flower buds are fatter than leaf buds and more often than not, Rhodies do not bloom the year after planting.I suggest waiting a week or so and see whether either or both leaf out.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 9:50PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

It sounds like you have cold damage, I wonder if your plants weren't well enough established before winter to withstand cold they might have otherwise tolerated...assuming those you bought are fully hardy in your zone.

Browned, burned, dried patches on outer leaf edges usually indicates sun/wind burn in summer. In winter during cold weather, the leaves roll under and inward in response to freezing temperatures, and any damage shows in the leaf center (usually elongated patches on either side of mid vein) - the part of the leaf left most exposed to dessicating winter sun and wind.

And waplummer is right, rhododendrons often do not bloom the Spring after being moved from the nursery to your garden, sometimes not even the second Spring.

Plants you buy blooming are flowering on buds set during their care in the nursery, when you disturb them by planting them in the ground, they will often skip the bud set that year while establishing a root system and adding growth to the framework.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 1:49AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Rhododendrons and azaleas set their flower bud during the prior summer. They need general good health and sun light to set a good number of flower buds. Also, they need a certain maturity that varies from variety to variety. A little phosphorus rich fertilizer like HollyTone now (or earlier would be even better) will help. They like some sun, but as you mention they like protection from winter sun and wind. Sunlight promotes more buds but the flower the bloom in full sun don't last as long or keep their color as long. So most people try to use some shade.

If you see dead flower buds, then you need to worry about the cold hardiness of the buds on the plants. Some varieties are not very cold hardy and the flower buds are the first things that get hit by the cold.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 8:59AM
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shelleyh(z5 NY)

Thanks for all the info. One of the plants is definitely in my zone the other I wasn't sure of and that's the one with the leaf damage. I just gave both Hollytone and we'll see what happens. The buds look Ok, not damaged. So maybe I'll see blooms next season.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 10:04AM
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