Rhododendron leaves dark green and deformed

Bama_JoeJuly 31, 2014


This year I decided to take up gardening as a hobby. I've really enjoyed it so far, planting blueberry bushes in the backyard (faces south) and rhododendrons between my sidewalk and porch. The leaves of my Rhodies (some of the leaves) are dark green and deformed, curling. They didn't die and fall off, but I removed them today since I was afraid of what leaving them on might do. Right now, I water with a soaker hose every three days for 15 minutes, with the hose looping around and back to the start. I kicked back the watering to that after reading that 75% of purchases die to overwatering. I'm in North Alabama and in zone 7a. Anyone seen this before?



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A better view

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 8:44PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

As far as I can tell from the image, the deformed leaves are older ones, and newer growth is just fine. If that's so, forget about them.

As for how long to run the soaker, 15 minutes is a very brief time.

To determine how deep and wide the moisture went, probe the soil with a trowel following an irrigation.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 3:16AM
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This kind of leaf deformity can be caused by a number of insects - aphids, for example - that attack the leaf when it is just beginning to emerge. More common, however, is to see this kind of leaf when the plant is putting out a second surge of growth some weeks or even months after the initial spring flush. I'm not sure if there is any widely accepted explanation for this, but if these leaves have just recently begun to appear that's what's happening. Usually, only a few rather than all of the second flush leaves will look like this. Some varieties of rhododendron are more likely to do this than others. Removing them is fine as they will never assume a normal shape.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 5:10AM
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Dark green leaves are to be expected - in fact, the preferred coloring with most selections. And the deformity is explained above by akamainegrower.

I agree with jean about the watering duration. Soakers typically emit water at such a low volume that 15 minutes will barely wet the soil surface in most cases. You want the water to penetrate down the full depth of the root ball or at least 8-10 inches. Depending on soil conditions, that could take several hours. Best to do a few test runs at different durations testing the moisture depth after each.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 5:24PM
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