Answer: Rhododendrons have somewhat specific needs in terms of the growing location and soil. They will do best in morning sun with good air circulation and yet sheltered from winter winds. The soil should be acidic, organic and humusy, evenly moist and yet well drained. This means damp like a wrung out sponge, never sopping wet or dried out. When you plant one, it should be planted a bit higher than it grew in the container. The planting hole should be several times wider than the rootball and no deeper. Planting too deeply will kill this plant. Any encircling roots should be cut or spread outward to direct them to grow into the surrounding soil. After planting mulch with two inches of organic mulch over the root area, no deeper. Water as needed to keep the soil evenly moist. Rhododendrons do not do well in a heavy clay based soil or in a location that drains poorly. They are subject to a number of diseases that can be aggravated by overly wet soil. Finally, the best time to plant these is in early spring; a midsummer planting would be very stressful due to the seasonal heat as well as the drier summer weather. Based on your description I am not certain what has been happening. You might want to consult with your county extension and also with the retailer where you purchased the plant, especially if there was a warranty.
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