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Can this rhododendron be rescued?

Posted by lesley_new_gardener 5A (My Page) on
Sat, May 29, 10 at 9:08

While visiting my father recently, I discovered that this long neglected rhododendron was miraculously still alive and growing. It is at least 25 years old (probably more like 30+), and the stem had been covered by rocks for a long time, causing the curved stem. This was once my mother's plant, and she always took wonderful care of it. It has been neglected for 15-20 years and I'd really like to rescue it.

I dug up what I could of the roots (the soil was very rocky), and pulled off any dying branches. I bought it back to my house, and planted it in the ground in some potting soil and put mulch on top of it, then watered it well. I had another rhodie growing in the same garden and it is doing wonderfully.

I am brand new to gardening and I have no idea if I did the right thing. I've read some forums about cutting rhodies down to 6 inch stumps. Am I better off doing that because of the plant's current shape? Any advice would be appreciated.


Here is a link that might be useful: Old Rhodie Picture

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Can this rhododendron be rescued?

Sorry, please try this link instead to see picture.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rhodie Pic

RE: Can this rhododendron be rescued?

That doesn't look like a 30 year old plant. There is no branching. It is very small. Also it is planted very close to the house. That may be a problem since it should develop into a bush. In any case, stake it up. Tie it loosely so the ties don't girdle it. Water it whenever it is wilted early in the morning. It is normal to wilt in the heat of the day. But only want if it is still wilted early in the morning.

If it struggles, cut back the top but leave some leaves to feed the roots. Cutting back to 6 inch stumps is for big robust healthy specimens, not little a skinny one like you have with damaged roots.

Watch for signs of chlorosis. If the new leaves become yellow with green veins, then it is chlorotic. That usually means that in is not acidic enough. If your soil is too alkaline, you will need to move the plant into a raised bed with acidic soil. If your soil is not too alkaline, you can just apply sulfur to increase the acidity and explained in the reference below.

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

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