Capistrano Rhododendron in CT

cammonroJune 16, 2009

I see these rhodies everywhere in nurseries here in CT and they always look spectacular in the pot. But I see some on the forums have had mixed success with these plants. I'm very interested in feedback from gardeners in our area. Every year mine puts out vigorous new growth but suffers severe winter dieback despite thorough application of Wilt Pruf in the fall.

Being a total novice when I planted in '07 I had it on a southern exposure but got a total of one bloom. I moved it in June of last year to an eastern exposure. It seemed to do better but again lots of die back. This year it had three bloom buds but two of them dried out before ever opening so again: one bloom. However, I find it to be a very pretty bloom and it looks terrific near our red house.

If I tug on the plant it will come right out of the ground so it doesn't seem to be rooting well at all despite mixing existing soil with compost and microrhyzae when transplanting. This is supposed to be a hardy plant. Do I have a dud or am I doing something wrong?

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Capistrano considered to be the most hardiest of all yellow evergreen rhododendrons. Even with a such tag it's not a reliable bloomer in colder parts of 6a, but blooms fairly good all over 6b.
"If I tug on the plant it will come right out of the ground ..." Something is not right. After two years in a ground it should be sitting firmly.
Have you teased the roots before planting or its rootball still have a shape of the pot? If later, then tear it apart and replant.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 1:41PM
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That's the strange thing- it doesn't seem root bound. I did transplant last June so it's just been about a year. Perhaps it needs more time?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 3:53PM
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You know on second look I started pulling the soil away and the root ball disintegrated down to nothing! I'm amazed it was standing upright. I teased them out and added microrhyzae. Will see what happens... Thanks for your insight George.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 2:26PM
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molie(z6 CT)

I live along the CT shoreline and always wanted Capistrano. This season at a local garden center I met someone who was purchasing a replacement Capistrano because "mine just up and died." We had a tough, cold winter and maybe that was his problem.

As to your problem of tugging on the plant and almost pulling it out.... maybe root rot because it was in clay or in a damp area? or voles eating the roots? I don't know, but it sure does sound strange.


    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 7:54PM
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I don't know but that's a good question Molie. We have clay soil but it's right near some drainage I put in 3 years ago so I don't think that's the issue. I actually think it could be chipmunks. They have been digging tunnels all over my yard starting last year. At first I thought they were adorable until I realized their destructiveness. I had to start thinning the population.

It remains to be seen how well this plant can do here. My sister-in-law planted one last year in what would seem a perfect spot on the easterly side of her house (afternoon shade) on the north side of their front stoop (shade from winter burn) and it's not thriving. I was talking to a fellow who works at the local nursery and he says: "You know what, my Capistrano is not doing so great either." My mother-in-law just planted one this year so I'm interested to see how hers does.

At the very least, I'm giving this Capistrano one more year at which point I'm might just try another one because I think the yellow looks so good with our house.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 9:19AM
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