The Q&A Archives: Rhododendrons dead or alive

Question: I have 3 rhododendrons in my yard, last year they started growing, but we had a cold spell and it seems two are them are dead. They are not green at all. I cut all the dead leaves off, and all they are now are sticks. Is there a possibility they will come back or should I just pull them out? They are established plants, about 3-4' tall. I'm not sure what caused this or what I can do about them.

Answer: Based on your description I am not certain if they are still alive or not. If they are, they should be able to releaf and grow this summer. To check, begin at the tip of each branch. Live wood will be flexible and has green just inside the bark. Dead wood will be off color brown or gray, and it is brittle and snaps in your hand. Trim off dead wood, working down the plant until you reach live wood. If they are still alive, they should regrow relatively quickly due to the established root system. Give them a top dressing of compost and keep them mulched with a two to three inch thick layer of organic mulch. Good luck!

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