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Slowly dying Rhody

Posted by chuck1856 z7 - SE Mass (My Page) on
Sat, Jun 15, 13 at 8:33

Hi, I planted this in the fall, along with other plants in same bed (azalea's, grasses, etc but not rhododendruns). All are doing fine except this specimen. Starting early in spring a number of branches were totally dead at ends, brown, now flower development. I figured winter damage from bad storms and cut it back. But it is still progressing further. Notice the leaves on left are droopy. I don't see spotting on leaves...just the entire leaf turns brown and wilts. No sign of bug damage. It is in part shade and gets plenty of water. Any thoughts?

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RE: Slowly dying Rhody

The most likely cause of your problem is a dried out root ball. Pot grown rhododendrons are very prone to this - there are many examples on this forum. The light peat based medium used by the grower is very hard to rewet once it dries out. The problem is made worse if at planting the roots are not cut, raked with a cultivator or otherwise unmatted.

The best thing to do is to dig up the plant, tease out the roots - don't be afraid to really do this thoroughly - and soak in a bucket until the root mass is wet. Then replant. If you notice signs of wilting over the summer, water at the base of the plant with a slow trickle for 30 to 60 minutes. Don't soak the whole bed. That just makes it harder for the roots to move out of the original medium and into the soil around it. You may have to use the trickle technique again next year, too.

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