transplant of rhododendron

jas0501October 19, 2013

I just transplanted a small rhododendron. I live in Massachusetts. I appreciate it may be a bit late in the season but it couldn't be avoided.

Question: Is it better to trim some branches and remove a portion of the leaves to not tax the root system, or leave all foliage to help boost root system recovery?

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I think the current thinking is to leave it intact; just don't let it get too dry before the really cold weather sets in.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 2:20PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Fall is OK to move a rhododendron. As DTD says, don't let it dry out before the ground freezes. I'd also recommend a light mulch of leaves after the ground freezes, and better yet, maybe a burlap (or similar) "screen" all around it (but NOT touching the leaves) to protect from winter wind, which is the main thing that would damage it by drying out the leaves because they can't pull water from frozen soil.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 3:15PM
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Water well (once a week deeply) right through the end November.
Then mulch with a light mulch, such as pine needles partly composted leaf mold. Not maple, they mat.
Excuse me, but I have developed a phobia about planting trees and shrubs too deep. Your rhodie should almost be sitting on top of the soil. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but it should be planted shallow. No soil up around the trunk at all.
You might want to check that.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 11:30PM
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ejr2005(Eastern MA)

All good advice. I too have been planting small rhodies and azaleas and am keeping my fingers crossed.

I am planting them high - maybe 2-3" higher than the ground. I fill around them with soil and make sure they don't lose that soil over time.

I suggest that you keep a watchful eye on the plant for the next year. I've had a couple of newer (spring) plantings of big leaf rhodies fall over in rain or snow storms. They have very shallow roots systems and I guess until they are well established pressure on those big leaves can pull them over. Luckily I noticed it quickly, planted them back in the ground, and put a stone on top to keep them upright. They may have been a little worse for wear the first year but seem fine the second year.

Good luck and keep us posted.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 1:20PM
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