The Q&A Archives: Rhodendron Leaf Problems

Question: I have rhododendron shrubs surrounding my home, which produced huge beautiful white flowers in the spring; however, we've had considerable rainfall the past few months and the shrubs have started to turn brown and yellow.

Also, I received a small jasmine tree as a gift, which I keep indoors in a clay pot and saucer. The plant started to produce pretty little white blossoms about a month ago, but then stopped. Also, the fragrance seems to have disappeared and the leaves are falling like crazy. Can you suggest what the problem might be with these plants? Thank you.

Answer: It's really difficult to diagnose a plant problem without actually seeing it. However, you may have answered your own question about the rhodies. Excess rainfall can suffocate roots, which can show up on the foliage. It is normal for the oldest leaves, those toward the center of the plant, to yellow and drop. The shrub will continue to put out new foliage as long as the roots are healthy. Check to make sure new growth is being produced. If so, all is well rhodie. If not, you might want to take some leaf samples into our local Cooperative Extension office for microscopic examination. Your rhodie may have developed a fungal infection. If so, you'll be given several control options.

As for your jasmine, failure to bloom indoors almost always is related to lack of light. I'd put it under a source of artificial light or take it outdoors for the summer. Place it in a bright location but out of direct sunshine. Dropping leaves can indicate over- or under-watering; water throughly then allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering thoroughly again. I think the combination of brighter light and a regular watering schedule will help your jasmine recover.

Best wishes with your plants!

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