Dying PJM

veryzerAugust 5, 2008

I'm a novice looking for help from all mavens out there. I bought two pjm rhodies in early may. They were planted six feet apart with a western exposure. I know this isn't the greatest spot, but I read that pjms are pretty sun tolerant. Anyhow, one is doing perfectly fine while the other is now dying. Here's some data that I hope might help for a diagnosis:

1. The dying rhody's leaves are drooping and folding as

well as turning a lighter green.

2. It's situated 6 feet to the south and might get 15 more

minutes of sun.

3. Both have received identical treatment--a little

sulpher before planting, slow drip watering when there

hasn't been rain for a week or so (we've had a wet

spring and summer).

4. The soil drains well (black Illinois farm belt soil).

5. I've given half doses of soluble rhody fertilizer twice.

6. Previous to the drooping and folding, the dying rhody

exhibited some browning around the edges, especially

toward the southern side of the plant while the healthy

one showed little. This was particularly evident on

new growth.

7. The dying one was putting on significant growth for

months....much more than my Cunningham's whites on the

eastern exposure of my house.

8. Both were planted shallowly--enough for 60 mph winds to

nearly uproot both in a storm last night.

There it is. Is there a Dr. House for rhodies out there.

All replies are greatly appreciated.

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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

First, adding sulfur doesn't mean the pH is correct. The pH must be measured and adjusted. The PJMs need an acidic pH, not sulfur. Sulfur is used to adjust the pH. If the soil is too alkaline, then the leaves should be yellowish with green veins.

Second, drip irrigation can be very bad since too much water will kill a rhododendron. They should only be watered when they need it. That usually means that the leaves look wilted in the morning. It is normal for the leaves to look wilted in the heat of the day, but not in the morning.

Third, many rhododendrons are doomed when they are planted. If they are grown in containers, the roots start growing is circles within the container. These roots need to be opened up and pulled out into the soil when they are planted. Not doing this normally will not kill a plant for several years. Then the roots start strangling each other.

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

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 9:41AM
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