Teresa D
Teresa D
  • Hometalker
  • Snellville, GA
Asked on Apr 12, 2012

Rhododendron blooming but looking sickly. Any ideas what might be happening?

Gabrielle FalkWanda sinnemaKitty W
+11

Answered

Here are pics of my rhododendron today and pics from April last year. I only got 3 blooms last year. Now I have more blooms but about 2/3 of the plant is gone (died). Anything you can think of that I might look for or do to prevent what's left from disappearing next year?
Today - 2012
Today - 2012
Today - 2012
Today - 2012
Last year, April 2011
Last year, April 2011
13 answers
  • Betty
    on Apr 12, 2012

    I have big full bushes but no blooms is it early yet or do I need to do something also for blooms.

  • Deborah C
    on Apr 12, 2012

    How much sun does it get, and if any is it morning or afternoon sun? How wet is the soil? Rhododendrons prefer shade over sun, however morning sun is less harsh than late afternoon sun. Rhododendrons don't like wet feet. They need to be in well drained soil and even planted a little high. They also prefer acid soil and are not salt tolerant. Also they grow best in zones 4-8. If that brick wall behind the bush gets any sun, it will heat up and cook your rhododendron.

    • Marianne
      on Feb 6, 2015

      @Deborah C Deborah, I am sorry ..but I beg to differ...I bought our house in Palos Park,il and for 18 years our rhododendrons did wonderful...they were there when I bought the house...and it was full afternoon sun and it did wonderfulllll....however I did feed it with miracle gro miracid...that and my magnolia tree...they were beautiful....

  • Teresa D
    on Apr 13, 2012

    There is a huge oak tree that shades the area. It may get a little morning sun, but not alot. If I had to guess, I'd say 2 hours? It sits on the corner of the house. I've got another one on the other end of the house that gets full sun ... well, maybe about 6 hours of sun. Not sure about the drainage. There are several azaleas, boxwoods and hydrangea a few feet in front of it. Should I fertilize it? I hear rhododendrons prefer a different mix than azaleas.

  • 3po3
    on Apr 13, 2012

    I would take a soil sample from near the rhododendron to your local cooperative extension office. They can tell you how to augment the soil for maximum growth.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Apr 13, 2012

    The cultural requirements of azaleas and rhododendrons are almost identical, Teresa. If you've never fertilized, you should, using a good slow-release fertilizer like Espoma's Holly-tone. Did you notice any sort of wilt preceding your plant's die-back?

  • Teresa D
    on Apr 13, 2012

    Douglas, I sprinkled Miracle-Gro Shake & Feed Bloom Booster around all my flowers and azaleas back in March. Maybe that helped? Yesterday, I searched previous posts and I saw another post from Flowerscapes with pictures of her rhodie and you and Walter mentioned Phytophthora. That is exactly how 2/3 of this plant looked last year. I thought the whole thing would die. I asked my yard guy about it at the time and he said, "who knows". So I just watched and waited. The schip laurel that is looking really bad (I posted a couple of weeks ago) is not far from this one. Wondering if the Phytophthora may have transferred to it and that's why half of it is gone. If that is the case, I guess I have a drainage problem over there?? I hadn't noticed that it stayed wetter than anywhere else.

  • Kitty W
    on Apr 13, 2012

    My grandfather had an acre or more of these. If you live in a area w/very hot summers, like the U.S. south (and I see you are in the south) some varieties of rhododendron will do better with some afternoon shade and some varieties are spindly looking thus often used as accent plants rather than a stand alone specimen. You may want to go to rhododendron (dot) org although their information is somewhat specialized and even a bit cryptic. University of Missouri Extension Service ('Lawn and Garden Section' under 'Trees and Shrubs') has good information and there is a pdf you can print. Your state extension service may also have something more relevant to your zone/area. Certain oaks have allelopathic affects on nearby plants/shrubs but your rhodie looks like a survivor so maybe that oak won't harm it..

  • Donna McCrummen
    on Apr 13, 2012

    I also had some sickly looking Rhodies when I first bought my house. I simply hacked them down. Now they are back and doing just fine. There is one that is huge - 15' feet or so - it was giving no blooms so I dug in some Osmocote fertilizer. Had blooms the next spring.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Apr 14, 2012

    Phytophthora could certainly spread, Teresa. Look for red-brown discoloration in the wood underneath the bark. Keep an eye on the drainage, cut out any diseased parts and clear up and leaf litter beneath the plants.

  • Sandy B
    on Apr 14, 2012

    most rhodys are very tough what kind is this and when and where was it purchased also what is it planted "near" for all plants to close to cement can hurt from lime and- try clean up and amend the soil be careful of the roots which are shallow and about the same all around as the plant a good mulch and some soil prep go a long ways also consider the weather where you live and watch for bugs and disease don't cut too much if it is in hot sun til fall

  • Kitty W
    on Apr 21, 2012

    I really like the color of that rhododendron. It's striking.

  • Wanda sinnema
    on Aug 2, 2015

    rody's are an easy care plant once you get them figured out.. they like acidic soil, some shade, and some varieties are long an leggy while others are shorter and bushy. I have several .. they can be pruned back just after they flower. keep in mind.. they flower on last years growth..SO, if you do a severe prune, you won't have flowers the following year on the ones you cut back.. DEADHEAD; each bloom, once it has died back should be snapped off, there are a series of rings at the base of the flowers, and just pinch the spent blooms there.. they can be a bit sticky.. This will cause 2 side growth to grow... making bushy plants. they DO NOT LIKE MULCH or anything around the base,, so pull it back to edge of the drip line on the plant. feed with a specia fertilizer for acid loving plants,, I also add COFFEE GROUNDS around the soil and scratch into for an added boost..

  • Gabrielle Falk
    on Jul 24, 2016

    I think rhododendrons are a member of the azalea family. So I guess what's good for an azalea would be good for a rhod..

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