New to Rhodies

dlcooper52a(NC Mtns, z7)June 5, 2014

We've moved to a new home in North Carolina and now have many rhododendrons and azaleas. Spring was simply breath-taking here!

But I'm a novice with the rhodo, though I've gardened generally for some 50 years. So I'd appreciate some help from you knowledgeable growers.

1) I've had difficulty identifying dormant buds on old wood. Maybe none are present? I don't want to risk cutting back "hard" our spindliest plants. Any hints/advice to improve compactness? (I've learned rhodos are classified "difficult to prune")

2) Is there value in dead-heading spent bloom stalks?

3) One plant develops ugly white bulbous growths on a few branch tips. These seem to be formed of distorted new leafs, as pictured, though they go on to get larger. Is this a commonly recognized problem? Probably a disease or insect?

We much appreciate the effectiveness of these forums. THANKS!

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Leaf gall. It's a fungus.

For now, the only thing you can do is to remove and discard the affected growth.

Next year, it's suggested to spray Monterey Liqui-Cop just prior to budbreak, then repeat 2 to 3 weeks later. Doing so should reduce symptoms the following year.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 12:11AM
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Rhododendrons vary considerably in their ability to produce new shoots from old wood. Some varieties do it easily, others do not. For seriously spindly plants, the best course is probably pruning back in an inconspicuous place and waiting to see what happens. Those growing in shade will usually respond less well than those receiving at least some direct sun.

Dead heading the spent blooms is a tedious but worthwhile task. Preventing the formation of seed does help with increased bloom the next spring. Further, unless they're removed, the brown shrunken pods are pretty obtrusive and ugly.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 5:38AM
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