The Q&A Archives: ask about a roedadendrum

Question: My Roedadendrum has not bloomed for three years. Can you let me know what the problem might be.It has buds on it.I use a fertalizer on it a few days ago.Should I Cutit down and start from scratch with a new one? Thanks Cathy

Answer: Cutting your rhododendron down probably would not help make it bloom.

Fertilizing may or may not make a difference, rhododendrons are light feeders. Use a slow release fertilizer for acid loving plants such as Hollytone per the label directions. Do not overfertilize as this is worse than not fertilizing at all.

Using an organic mulch about two to three inches deep year round will help feed the soil slowly over time as it breaks down. It also helps keep the soil cool and moist during the summer, which is important for this plant. You also need to water it during dry spells any time the soil is not frozen. The soil should be damp like a wrung out sponge, not sopping wet/saturated and not bone dry.

Rhododendrons usually fail to set flower buds and bloom if they are planted in too shady a location -- they need a few hours of direct sun or a very bright location in dappled light all day.

But if the plant is setting flower buds and they are not opening, then the problem might be winter hardiness. Some rhododendron varieties will survive in cold winter climates such as yours, but their flower buds may be killed each winter when the weather is extremely cold. If it is planted in an exposed, cold and windy spot this may be what is happening.

This year, the problem might be related to the dry weather, with the buds getting dried out and not blooming due to the drought.

And, a new plant will take a few years to settle in, become fully rooted and established, and begin to bloom its best.

If you are still unsure about what is happening to your plant, you might check with your local county extension for help in trouble shooting.

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