The Q&A Archives: Sick Rhododendrum

Question: I purchased this shrub last year from Home Depot and the most of the leaves are brown & curled. I emailed about this plant last year and was told that it had to get used to the garden. There are buds, but the plant looks terrible. What do you think. I have a picture but couldn't post it here.

Answer: I'm sorry we can't accept photo attachments in the forum. It would really help to see the plant so we can properly diagnose the problem! Rhododendrons do take some time to acclimate to their new homes and when they are first transplanted they can look really unhappy. But by now, yours should be well established and healthy. Obviously, there is something wrong with the place it is planted. For the most part, rhododendrons prefer shade (although there are some that will tolerate sunshine so check to see which your particular plant prefers). They require acidic soils and ample moisture but also need to be planted in soil that drains well. If the soil stays too wet, a rhodie can develop root rot. Since it has flower buds, it is trying to survive, it just is having a rough time. Wait until after the plant flowers or late May if the buds do not open, then dig the plant, amend the soil with organic matter such as compost or peat moss, then replant making sure the roots are covered with soil but the plant is not in the ground too deeply. Then water well to settle the soil. Be sure to give it either full or part shade unless it is a sun lover. Water deeply once each week and you should see new growth. If not, the plant may need to be replaced. Best wishes with your rhododendron!

« Click to go to the homepage

» Ask a question of your own

Q&A Library Searching Tips

  • When singular and plural spellings differ, as in peony and peonies, try both.
  • Search terms are not case sensitive.

Today's site banner is by cocoajuno and is called "Here's looking at you."