PJM's too heavy?

limestonerJuly 31, 2011

Planed a couple PJM's in the spring. I know they are overused but my wife loves them. Anyway, shortly after planting we had severe thunderstorms and tornado warnings with winds that brought down trees. The PJM's are in a pretty protected area so I did not think they would get much of the wind but about a week after the storm I noticed two of them were leaning and a bunch of the new growth was snake wavy in form. The two that were leaning seemed to move very easy so I assume whatever root structure had developed was disrupted. I staked them to try to give them a keep them upright while rerooting and noticed they are very dense with a lot of branching for a 2' tall plant. I was wondering if they are too heavy for their root structure and should be thinned out a little? Thanks for the advice.

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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

Commercial rhododendron growers tend to force a lot of top growth in order to produce a more saleable plant - people want to see a lot of growth and buds and rarely think about the root structure.

PJM is probably the toughest rhodendron ever developed, but even they would not have produced much new root growth by the end of July from a spring planting - especially if the rootball was not loosened a bit when they were planted - so they would have been effected by high winds.

Any pruning done at this point would just stimulate late growth which might or might not survive the winter. Better to wait until after next spring's bloom to assess the plants and do any needed pruning. Some sort of wind shield such as burlap for the winter would probably be better than staking.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2011 at 5:14AM
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limestoner

Thanks Mainegrower. It was really kind of a freakish event and poor timing. The site is generally protected from the wind but tornadoes are not very common in PA and I can tell you no wind barriers would have helped. All my other Rhodo's are fine but have been in for several years. I will follow your suggestion and wait from spring to assess them.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 10:54PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Probably root-bound. This is very common, I'm not sure all the cases of supposed overly large tops of nursery plants are not really overly deformed roots instead.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 10:41PM
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