Please Help! I think I killed my Rhodie.

RhodieKillerJune 18, 2013

I just got this plant last year and it just looks awful. I'm not sure if it is beyond saving at this point or not.

From my reading... I did not cut up the root ball like I should have and am wondering if this is a plant that can recover at this point. Every leaf is curled under, even the slightly greener ones on the bottom/shaded area. It is mostly yellowed with green veins, indicating a potential soil issue. I've tried to use a liquid acidifier for these plants twice and it doesn't seem to have done anything. I even upped the concentration. (Side note: My Gerber Daisies and Euonymus seem to be doing great since I did this).

I tried taking my sprinkler and putting it on a low trickle and leaving it over the rhodie for a few hours yesterday and I was at least expecting a slight perk in the leaves... but nothing!

I have only had one-2 buds bloom and they were tiny and barely opened at all. Not sure if this is a fungus or something on the leaves either.

Thoughts? Should I keep at this or buy a new one and start over? How long can it take to revive such a plant?

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Other pictures of the decrepit plant.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 6:15PM
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Last picture.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 6:16PM
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This shows the typical symptoms of a dried out root ball. Dig up the plant, unmat and cut the roots with a knife, hand cultivator and/or forceful stream of water. Then soak in a bucket of water until the roots are moist. Then replant. For the rest of the summer, water - when its needed - by placing a slow trickle from a hose at the rhododendron's base. A sprinkler even at low volume saturates all the soil making it more difficult for the rhododendron's roots to penetrate because it now holds too little oxygen. A sprinkler does not wet the peat based root ball, either.

The photo shows lots of healthy buds along the stems, so don't give up. Liquid acidifiers such as Miracid do more harm then good. Test your soil for pH before doing anything. There are some fungal spots but they are pretty normal - nothing to worry about.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 5:15AM
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So I got home and dug this sucker up. There were some very fine roots when I scraped away the mulch. I stuck my shovel in and made a wide circle around the plant and got it up. There was some of the original root ball, but when I went to cut some slits into it... most of it came off. Still going to soak it for maybe a half hour.

The soil and rootball was actually fairly moist. The shovel cut through the soil pretty easily, although, the soil did seem pretty jam packed... uncertain if it is clay based. I've chopped the soil up to try to make it not one big clump and will not stomp it down like I did when I first planted it. I may mix in a little potting soil for added fluff.

I do also have a pellet form of plant food for Rhodies and Azaleas, so I may sprinkle some of that in as well. Here's hoping. I just hope I didn't lose half of what roots there were when I pulled it up. :(

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 8:30PM
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"Stomping it down" was probably the major problem from the beginning. Rhododendrons need soil containing 25 to 50% coarse organic matter to hold moisture and insure lots of oxygen at the root level. Over compaction of the soil by stomping, especially if the soil is less than ideal in terms of organic content, eliminates air space and strangles rhododendron roots. Do not fertilize. It's counterproductive for stressed plants and not something this plant needs at all.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 5:20AM
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