rhododendron loose in spagnum

francesjJune 26, 2008

We have a very large bed with several rhododendrons of different sizes/types and all seem to be doing fine; however, the last 4 we planted don't seem to be situated firmly in the ground.

We dug large holes for them that we filled with spagnum which we soaked. They root ball and surrounding soil around the plants was extremely hard, so we soaked them as well before planting.

After a month, they still seem to be "loose" (could easily pull them up. Should I have mixed the spagnum better with the (clay) soil in the surrounding bed? Or they maybe not getting enough water so they can take root? I can still feel the soil clump if I dig my fingers down under the plants--it's not hard, but it hasn't completely broken up yet.

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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

First, the soil should be tested for drainage. A lack of good drainage is the major cause for demise of rhododendrons. They get root rot if the roots remain too wet in hot weather. This is almost always a fatal disease. If drainage is a problem, then a raised bed is normally the best alternative.

Then, the sphagnum moss should have been incorporated with the soil. It is a soil amendment, not an alternate soil. Today, pine bark is preferred by many to sphagnum moss, especially on the West Coast.

The root balls should have been opened up before they were planting. This prevents the roots from strangling each other and helps them establish themselves in the soil.

Then, they should have been well mulched. If all of this was done, then being a little loose would not be a concern.

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

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 8:50AM
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