rhodo sick?

lethean46October 3, 2010

This Nova Zembla has been in the ground for 2 or 3 seasons. It is planted in a western exposure at the base of a mature Sweetbay Mahgnolia. I scored the rootball from top to bottom at 4 places and opened the bottom of the rootball. I didn't sink it completely into the ground fearing that I could damage the magnolia tree roots. Perhaps 1/2 the rootball is in the ground and the other 1/2 is sitting above ground level with a good soil mixture mounded around that. I deep water about once per week.

The problem shown below is slowly getting worse and worse, it seems. The branches are not broken where they appear to be dead.

The Nova Zembla on the other side of the front door - also a in a western exposure and also planted beneath a mature Magnolia - look to be just fine, flourishing.

What could be wrong with this rhodo?

Perspective of how it is planted under the magnolia. The rootball is planted 5' from the foundation of the house.

Concurrent problem on the magnolia. Might the problems be related?

I feel like this rhodo is in significant decline at this point. As you can see, it looks OK from the front but upon closer inspection? it is not looking very good at all.

What do you think? Sick rhodo?

Thank you for your help.


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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

There are a number of causes for what is rather generically called "branch dieback." This commonly occurs and usually does not mean the entire plant is on its way out. The best thing you can do is prune back to green wood and make sure the rhododendron receives enough water and nutrients so it has a good chance of growing replacement branches.

It may or may not be significant that the plant closest to the magnolia is the one suffering. One of the photos seems to show some discoloration of the magnolia leaves - possibly fungus.

Your County Extension Service or a nursery with knowledgable people can probably help you a good deal more than long distance diagnosis.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 5:28AM
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Thank you for your reply. I'm glad to hear that branch dieback is not necessarily fatal.

Re the magnolia - I have an excellent tree guy coming out this week for another job. I'll definitely have him take a look at the magnolia. The leaf damage is evident throughtout the canopy.

Thanks again.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2010 at 10:44AM
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