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Rhodo buds but no blooms

Posted by klajeck z7MD (My Page) on
Mon, May 22, 06 at 11:17

I have a rhododendron that looks fairly healthy and has buds on it, but does not bloom. When I first moved here three years ago, it looked not so good -- yellow and brown on many of the leaves. I pruned out the affected leaves and fertilized it with Miracid fall and spring for two years. Now the foilage is healthier, and the buds look healthy too. But all the other rhodos in the neighborhood are blooming and mine's not again. Should I be doing something differently? Thanks in advance!

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RE: Rhodo buds but no blooms

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Mon, May 22, 06 at 16:47

Two reasons for failure to bloom are summer drought, and too much shade. If you found browning on leaves (particularly on the outer leaf margins), the rhododendron may not have been getting enough water before you moved in.

If it's now getting enough regular water, but is in too much shade, you'll have few, if any, flower buds.

Could you give a little more information on what kind of care it receives, and how it is sited?

RE: Rhodo buds but no blooms

There are two types of buds: leaf buds and flower buds. In winter they look similar, but in spring the flower buds swell up like small golf balls. Leaf buds stay the same shape.

Miracid may be the problem. It is high in nitrogen and nitrogen promotes leaf and branch growth and discourages flower bud production. It can also force late season growth that gets killed or stunted by frost damage. Phosphorus promotes flower bud production and hardiness. Potassium is necessary for well being. No fertilizer or an early spring application of HollyTone are better choices.

Pruning after mid summer is also a problem. The buds are formed in summer and early fall so pruning then or later is not advisable since it will remove flower buds. New leaf buds will form in the spring, but new flower buds won't form until the next year.

If you have flower buds that did not open they could bloom later in the season (up until mid July for some varieties) or if they are brown inside, the variety may be two tender for your area and the buds are freezing.

If you don't have flower buds, then too much nitrogen or too much shade are the most likely culprits.

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