General Discussion:

Rhodo problem

Messages posted to thread:

Greg01-Aug-03 08:03 AM EST 6a   
Susan01-Aug-03 12:16 PM EST 6a   
DAVE02-Aug-03 01:04 PM EST   
Chris11-Aug-03 09:35 AM EST 5a   
JoanneS18-Aug-03 11:24 AM EST 3a   
Greg29-Aug-03 02:02 PM EST 6a   
Chris02-Sep-03 09:48 AM EST 5a   

Subject: Rhodo problem
From: Greg
Zone: 6a
Date: 01-Aug-03 08:03 AM EST

I have been gardening for many years, butI have no experience with rhododendrons. Two summers ago I planted a rhododendron in my garden (sio this is it's third growing season). It is in a shady spot, near a cedar tree (I mulch with the dropped needles) and about 6-8" from a fence. I have fed it with rhodo food every summer. Unfortunately, it has not bloomed yet and is not putting out new foliage. And the old foliage does not look great. This year for the first time there were some flower buds on the plant but they never developed into blooms. After a few weeks, they just dried up. Also, some new leaf buds seemed to be developing in early summer, but look very stunted.

I visited a garden last summer that had a number of rhododengrons and azalias and the owner suggested that my plant may be planted too deep. Any ideas on what the problem might be?

Subject: RE: Rhodo problem
From: Susan
Zone: 6a
Date: 01-Aug-03 12:16 PM EST

My rhododendrons I planted in 2000 bloomed for the first time this year. They bloomed in 2000 on the buds they came with, then nothing for two springs. Finally they set buds last fall and I had blossoms thins spring. I was afraid that the snow/ice we had in mid-April was going to do the buds in but I covered them the night before that storm and they survived - maybe your budss were killed by that storm...? Right now the foliage is looking not so good. I'm assuming that the cooler, wetter than normal conditions we've had this year is a big factor - lots of things have been showing the affects of fungus attacks... I'm just hoping they'll survive whatever it is that's bothering them now and set buds again this fall. I think they just take a few years to settle in and get going so have patience for another year....

Subject: RE: Rhodo problem
From: DAVE
Date: 02-Aug-03 01:04 PM EST

Rhodo's require several hours of sun a day, preferably early morning or late afternoon. You may have them in too shaddy a spot. Also, they like lots of moisture as their root systems are very shallow. This may be why your buds fell off. But the soil needs to be very good at draining away the moisture (sandy is ideal) and it needs to be topped with several inches of acidic compost. Never till the soil around the plant as the roots are very close to the surface. If you're doing all of these things and still having a problem you may have insect or fungus problems and there are several good articles on how to rid yourself of them.I suspect your plants probably, just need more attention.

Subject: RE: Rhodo problem
From: Chris
Zone: 5a
Date: 11-Aug-03 09:35 AM EST

Rhodo flower buds are not as hardy as the rest of the plant so the dead flower buds may simply have been killed by the severe winter This is normal. Rhodos like acidic moist well drained soil - a mix of pine bark chips, peatmoss and topsoil is good. Also a mulch - pine needles or bark chips. They need very little fertilizer. Cedars suck up the moisture so make sure your rhodo is watered regularly. Some of my rhodos are late this year at putting out new growth - again possibly the harsh winter. Any idea what rhodo you have

Subject: RE: Rhodo problem
From: JoanneS (
Zone: 3a
Date: 18-Aug-03 11:24 AM EST

Chris is right to ask what kind of rhodo you have. They are hardy to different zones. My first rhodo took four years before it was able to produce blooms. My latest only produced one bloom this spring, but has a good number of flower buds developed for next spring. It is also on its fourth year. I have elegans and catawbiense varieties, and from my experience, they take their time establishing.

Two years ago, we had an incredibly dry winter. My largest rhodo made it through the winter, but then totally dried up. All the flower buds and then the leaves turned brown and hard and then fell off. I thought I had lost him. Moved him to the back yard, and darned thing is more spectacular now than ever.

Subject: RE: Rhodo problem
From: Greg
Zone: 6a
Date: 29-Aug-03 02:02 PM EST

Thanks everyone for your advice. Sounds like my rhododendrons have suffered a bit of everything as your descriptions of the effects of weather, dry soil and lack of sun all seem to be what I have seen as well. I think I will give it one more spring and if I have the same problem, I will move to a sunnier location, away from the cedar tree and do some major soil enhancement to creatre the right soil conditions.

By the way, any suggestions on winter protection. I'm in 6a, so it is fairly mild, but last winter was brutally cold for Southern Ontario. Who knows what we'll ge this year.

Thanks again!

Subject: RE: Rhodo problem
From: Chris
Zone: 5a
Date: 02-Sep-03 09:48 AM EST

The worst problem with winter is the strengthening sun in late winter/early spring which dessicates the leaves and buds when the ground is still frozen so the roots cannot supply water to the plant. So a screen to the S and W sides to cut off the direct sunlight is probably the most important protection. Lots of snow helps so long as it's not too wet and heavy.

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