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my rhododendrons are wilting

Posted by Shoneeday 5 (My Page) on
Tue, Sep 25, 12 at 13:24

Hello everyone. My rhododendrons are wilting. I planted them a month ago. I am wondering if I planted them too deeply. I uploaded a pic that was taken today. I watered yesterday. The small one in the front perked up but the larger two in the back are still drooping. The same is true for the hydrangeas. Some are dying and the other one is ok. Can I dig up the rhodies and replant them? Is hollytone good for these shrubs?..thanks.
Kristine


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RE: my rhododendrons are wilting

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Tue, Sep 25, 12 at 15:10

Hollytone is a good choice of fertilizer, but it will only resolve issues of needed nutrients - which your shrubs don't have. It can't correct other problems and fertilizing isn't going to help just now.

I can't tell how deeply they are planted from the photo, they should be no deeper than they were growing in the nursery pot or even slightly higher. Did you rough up the rootballs before putting them into the ground to make sure roots could begin to establish out into surrounding soil?

A tightly compact rootball that has not been opened up can remain dry even if you are wetting the surrounding soil. If a plant perks up from wilting after being watered, that gives you a clue - they need water, lack of it is causing them to wilt. Mulching around and over the root zones will help to conserve moisture, keep roots cool.


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RE: my rhododendrons are wilting

Hello morz8. Thanks for replying to my post. Will it hurt if I dig them up and plant them higher today? I water deeply every other day.....the one in the front perks up but the two in the back still droop. When I planted them, I just dropped them into the ground....I did not touch the roots at all. I can also tell you that the soil is a rocky clay mix. I will dig them up and replant them higher. I will also separate the root balls. I also have some red colored wood mulch that I will add this weekend. I will post pics of the rootballs and the newly planted depth. Thanks. Kristine


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RE: my rhododendrons are wilting

Hello morz8. Thanks for replying to my post. Will it hurt if I dig them up and plant them higher today? I water deeply every other day.....the one in the front perks up but the two in the back still droop. When I planted them, I just dropped them into the ground....I did not touch the roots at all. I can also tell you that the soil is a rocky clay mix. I will dig them up and replant them higher. I will also separate the root balls. I also have some red colored wood mulch that I will add this weekend. I will post pics of the rootballs and the newly planted depth. Thanks. Kristine


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RE: my rhododendrons are wilting

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Tue, Sep 25, 12 at 19:44

If you lift them out and find the same pot shape from the container in which they were growing, you can address it a few ways...

If in a loose and fiberous potting material you may be able to remove some of it, pull some of the roots away with your hand or a garden tool. Some will give the root ball a sharp spray with the hose and wash some away, or cut slits down the sides of the shape with a knife.

If they had been in the container so long the roots are really dense and matted, visible down the sides and the bottom, you can root prune. With a sharp knife, cut away about a 1/2" of matted roots from the sides from a plant grown in a 1 gal container, as much as an inch from a larger pot.

It wouldn't hurt to submerge the rootball in a pail of water for several minutes to soak it through again before putting them back in the ground, when the bubbles stop rising and it has more weight to it, you'll know its wet...should at least temporarily resolve the wilting and restore the lost moisture in the leaves.


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RE: my rhododendrons are wilting

I dug up the rhodies....they were still pot shaped as u suggested they would be.


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RE: my rhododendrons are wilting

They were also planted too deeply.


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RE: my rhododendrons are wilting

I loosened the root balls with a hand spade and replanted them about 2 inches higher than ground level. I filled in with miracle grow soil and i watered deeply and used my foot to settle the rhodie and remove any space or air pockets.


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RE: my rhododendrons are wilting

Hopefully digging them up, loosening the root balls and replanting them a few inches higher then soil level with help the roots get the water that they are in need of. I will mulch...this weekend. Thank you for your insight....Kristine


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RE: my rhododendrons are wilting

Everything you've done will help with two exceptions. From the photo it appears that the planting hole is barely larger than the root ball itself. Pot grown rhododendrons are almost always growing in a peat based mix. The difference between this and a clay based soil is great and the rhododendron will have a good deal of difficulty extending its roots into the clay. Ideal rhododendron soil is at least 25 to 50% coarse organic matter which will hold moisture but provide ample air space. A larger area with this kind of "soil" will help a great deal.

The other exception is using your foot and body weight to settle the plant. This overly compacts the soil, especially if it is wet, thereby eliminating the air space rhododendrons need.


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RE: my rhododendrons are wilting

NEXT time, use a gentle stream fro the hose to settle the soil around your plants, not your foot.

I hope that you followed mor's advice and submerged the root ball in a bucket of water for a while. I guarantee that the center of the ball was bone dry.


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RE: my rhododendrons are wilting

OMG...My rhodies are back! The drooping is gone and they are looking very healthy. This pic was taken today...I watered them 2 days ago and will water again today.

Thank you Morz8, akamainegrower and rhizo 1, for all the sound advice! Morz8 you rock!...your swift and through response saved the rhododendrons and the hydrangeas as well!

Akamainegrower...you posed food for thought. should I dig them up again to amend the surrounding soil right now or can it be done in the early spring? I also decided after using my feet to settle in the first rhodie that I would not do it for the others...so thanks for confirming that my instincts were on point!


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RE: my rhododendrons are wilting

I will be mulching the area around the shed this weekend using the bagged red colored wood chips from home depot. Any advice on how best to do this would be appreciated! This is my first year of gardening...oh how I love it so! But I still don't know a great deal about how to go about things correctly. Thank you all for your help....Kristine


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RE: my rhododendrons are wilting

Pics of rhodies on right side of the shed. These are the same as pic # 1


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RE: my rhododendrons are wilting

The rhododendrons do look much better. I would offer a caution about the colored mulches - and some of the uncolored ones - sold at the big box stores. The best mulch and soil amendment for rhododendrons and other acid soil plants is conifer bark. Much of what's available at the bb stores is ground up and dyed construction and other debris. It's unlikely to do any real harm, but will not do any good, either, and may not break down into the acid humus you want. The red color won't last long, either. Read the label carefully. At least around here, one of the bb stores whose name begins with an L does have actual pine bark available in bags.

Any major changes to your planting can certainly wait until next spring, but keep on watering until real cold arrives.


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RE: my rhododendrons are wilting

You don't need to dig them up again. You can just dig up the soil around that you didn't dig up already and modify it with some organic matter. You don't need to dig very deep and can use small pine bark particles or fine pine bark mulch to modify the soil. The roots seldom are more than 2 or 3 inches deep in the garden, but digging deeper will help with drainage. Continue with the raised bed in the outer part, keeping is slightly below the soil where the plant is. Then mulch good with a conifer bark like pine bark.

Good Luck!


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