my rhododendrons are wilting

ShoneedaySeptember 25, 2012

Hello everyone. My rhododendrons are wilting. I planted them a month ago. I am wondering if I planted them too deeply. I uploaded a pic that was taken today. I watered yesterday. The small one in the front perked up but the larger two in the back are still drooping. The same is true for the hydrangeas. Some are dying and the other one is ok. Can I dig up the rhodies and replant them? Is hollytone good for these shrubs?..thanks.

Kristine

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Hollytone is a good choice of fertilizer, but it will only resolve issues of needed nutrients - which your shrubs don't have. It can't correct other problems and fertilizing isn't going to help just now.

I can't tell how deeply they are planted from the photo, they should be no deeper than they were growing in the nursery pot or even slightly higher. Did you rough up the rootballs before putting them into the ground to make sure roots could begin to establish out into surrounding soil?

A tightly compact rootball that has not been opened up can remain dry even if you are wetting the surrounding soil. If a plant perks up from wilting after being watered, that gives you a clue - they need water, lack of it is causing them to wilt. Mulching around and over the root zones will help to conserve moisture, keep roots cool.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 3:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Shoneeday

Hello morz8. Thanks for replying to my post. Will it hurt if I dig them up and plant them higher today? I water deeply every other day.....the one in the front perks up but the two in the back still droop. When I planted them, I just dropped them into the ground....I did not touch the roots at all. I can also tell you that the soil is a rocky clay mix. I will dig them up and replant them higher. I will also separate the root balls. I also have some red colored wood mulch that I will add this weekend. I will post pics of the rootballs and the newly planted depth. Thanks. Kristine

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 6:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Shoneeday

Hello morz8. Thanks for replying to my post. Will it hurt if I dig them up and plant them higher today? I water deeply every other day.....the one in the front perks up but the two in the back still droop. When I planted them, I just dropped them into the ground....I did not touch the roots at all. I can also tell you that the soil is a rocky clay mix. I will dig them up and replant them higher. I will also separate the root balls. I also have some red colored wood mulch that I will add this weekend. I will post pics of the rootballs and the newly planted depth. Thanks. Kristine

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 7:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

If you lift them out and find the same pot shape from the container in which they were growing, you can address it a few ways...

If in a loose and fiberous potting material you may be able to remove some of it, pull some of the roots away with your hand or a garden tool. Some will give the root ball a sharp spray with the hose and wash some away, or cut slits down the sides of the shape with a knife.

If they had been in the container so long the roots are really dense and matted, visible down the sides and the bottom, you can root prune. With a sharp knife, cut away about a 1/2" of matted roots from the sides from a plant grown in a 1 gal container, as much as an inch from a larger pot.

It wouldn't hurt to submerge the rootball in a pail of water for several minutes to soak it through again before putting them back in the ground, when the bubbles stop rising and it has more weight to it, you'll know its wet...should at least temporarily resolve the wilting and restore the lost moisture in the leaves.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 7:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Shoneeday

I dug up the rhodies....they were still pot shaped as u suggested they would be.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 9:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Shoneeday

They were also planted too deeply.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 9:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Shoneeday

I loosened the root balls with a hand spade and replanted them about 2 inches higher than ground level. I filled in with miracle grow soil and i watered deeply and used my foot to settle the rhodie and remove any space or air pockets.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 9:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Shoneeday

Hopefully digging them up, loosening the root balls and replanting them a few inches higher then soil level with help the roots get the water that they are in need of. I will mulch...this weekend. Thank you for your insight....Kristine

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 9:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
akamainegrower

Everything you've done will help with two exceptions. From the photo it appears that the planting hole is barely larger than the root ball itself. Pot grown rhododendrons are almost always growing in a peat based mix. The difference between this and a clay based soil is great and the rhododendron will have a good deal of difficulty extending its roots into the clay. Ideal rhododendron soil is at least 25 to 50% coarse organic matter which will hold moisture but provide ample air space. A larger area with this kind of "soil" will help a great deal.

The other exception is using your foot and body weight to settle the plant. This overly compacts the soil, especially if it is wet, thereby eliminating the air space rhododendrons need.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 5:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

NEXT time, use a gentle stream fro the hose to settle the soil around your plants, not your foot.

I hope that you followed mor's advice and submerged the root ball in a bucket of water for a while. I guarantee that the center of the ball was bone dry.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 4:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Shoneeday

OMG...My rhodies are back! The drooping is gone and they are looking very healthy. This pic was taken today...I watered them 2 days ago and will water again today.

Thank you Morz8, akamainegrower and rhizo 1, for all the sound advice! Morz8 you rock!...your swift and through response saved the rhododendrons and the hydrangeas as well!

Akamainegrower...you posed food for thought. should I dig them up again to amend the surrounding soil right now or can it be done in the early spring? I also decided after using my feet to settle in the first rhodie that I would not do it for the others...so thanks for confirming that my instincts were on point!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 7:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Shoneeday

I will be mulching the area around the shed this weekend using the bagged red colored wood chips from home depot. Any advice on how best to do this would be appreciated! This is my first year of gardening...oh how I love it so! But I still don't know a great deal about how to go about things correctly. Thank you all for your help....Kristine

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 7:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Shoneeday

Pics of rhodies on right side of the shed. These are the same as pic # 1

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 8:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
akamainegrower

The rhododendrons do look much better. I would offer a caution about the colored mulches - and some of the uncolored ones - sold at the big box stores. The best mulch and soil amendment for rhododendrons and other acid soil plants is conifer bark. Much of what's available at the bb stores is ground up and dyed construction and other debris. It's unlikely to do any real harm, but will not do any good, either, and may not break down into the acid humus you want. The red color won't last long, either. Read the label carefully. At least around here, one of the bb stores whose name begins with an L does have actual pine bark available in bags.

Any major changes to your planting can certainly wait until next spring, but keep on watering until real cold arrives.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 5:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

You don't need to dig them up again. You can just dig up the soil around that you didn't dig up already and modify it with some organic matter. You don't need to dig very deep and can use small pine bark particles or fine pine bark mulch to modify the soil. The roots seldom are more than 2 or 3 inches deep in the garden, but digging deeper will help with drainage. Continue with the raised bed in the outer part, keeping is slightly below the soil where the plant is. Then mulch good with a conifer bark like pine bark.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 5:54PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Spring is here.....
=================== 'nuff said! ===================...
Emerogork2
Adjust pH for Azaleas
I have two azaleas in separate planters and they both...
cakbu
Anybody out there have luck with Rhodos in Southern Arkansas?
Looking for any feedback from Houzz readers who have...
Rusty Empire
Houzz kills Garden Web utility
Houzz has just about killed the Garden Web. We can...
rhodyman
Please help to ID those two Rhodos
I found two interesting Rhodos (one elepidote, one...
rockimea
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™