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Rhododendron Advice, Please

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
by ChristyD on May 11, 2006 02:41 AM
Good Morning everyone!

My Husband and I purchased a home last July and I have just recently discovered that the 4 green shrubs in the front of our home are rhododendrons. Unfortunately, I have they aren't doing very well, and I'm not sure how to help the poor things.

There are 4 shrubs that are planted against the front wall of our home. (They are facing east, if that helps at all.) If we numbered them, Shrub1 is on the south end of the wall, and Shrub4 would be on the north end of the wall. Shrub1 is in the best health of them all. As you move north down the wall, their health deteriorates.

Shrub1 has new growth on most all of it's branches. The new leaves are a pale minty green. There was one beautiful flower, which is how we figured out what they were. The leaves on the plant are a little droopy, but a nice dark green.

Shrub2 isn't a lot different from Shrub2. New growth that is that same minty green color, but no flowers. It's a little bit smaller than shrub1.

Shrub3 has no new growth at all and the leaves are a dark brownish red. It's smaller than shrub2. The leaves curl a little bit under.

Shrub4... the poor thing. Half of the plant has no leaves and possibly dead branches. The leaves that are there are more red than green and are curling under.

I don't know much about the soil. There is a black tarp/paper (with pinholes in it) over the ground. And red 'rocks' on top. (The rocks are nearly weightless).

I have been watering them and did apply some plant food for acid loving plants, but it doesn't seemed to have helped. I'm afraid to do anything more as I'm afraid I'll do more harm than good. I sure would love to save these shrubs. Any help/advice/suggestions would be most appreciated.

Thank you so much!

Christy D
In Wisconsin Zone5b
by RugbyHukr on May 11, 2006 03:14 AM
rhododendrons like shade, they can take sun after they are strongly established. the east side of a home is usually sunny, so i would either replace the worst or at least put up a shade screen to protect them until they recover.

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I love the sweet scents wafting in the breeze. I stop to admire the vibrant colors of all living things. And people think me odd. Then ODD I am!!!
by joclyn on May 11, 2006 05:28 AM
rugby is right...and it sounds like the bushes that are doing the worst get the most sun...

you might think about moving the 2 that are the worst to another spot that has a bit more shade.
by ChristyD on May 12, 2006 03:31 AM
Thank you both so much for suggestions! We're going to try and move the worst one to another location and hope for the best now. The second to worst is beginning to show blossoms so we're going to wait until it's finished and see about moving that one as well.

Thanks again!

by johnCT on May 12, 2006 04:44 AM
There may be more to it. How large are the plants? Are they well-established? Are they the big leaf type variety or PJM's or similar small leaf types? Can you post any pictures? The east side of the house should be just fine for rhodies. They can take a great deal of sun and on the east side it would be only morning sun and afternoon shade which should be perfect. Can you describe this black "tarp/paper" more? Is it landscape fabric? The kind used under mulch to block weeds(which NEVER works anyway [Wink] )?

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John - Zone 6

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