dieing rhododendron - Knowledgebase Question

Grand Island, Ne
Avatar for sgoris
Question by sgoris
August 12, 2010
Spring '09 purchased two rhododendrons; planted on north side. One died and I returned this spring for a replacement. Planted replacement; now this one is dieing but the other is still fine. Same soil, same sun. How do I save it?

Answer from NGA
August 12, 2010
I'd suspect there's something not quite right with the soil if you've planted and are losing two rhododendrons in the same garden spot. Rhodies like moist, well draining soils that are on the acidic side. If the soil doesn't drain well it can cause root rot, which can kill the shrub. I'm sure the soil looks just fine, but deep down there may be enough compaction to keep it from draining as it should. To save your rhodie you may want to plant it in another spot in the garden or transplant it into a container until you can figure out just what's going on with the soil. It might be that all you need to do is amend the soil with compost or other organic matter to loosen it and help it drain well. You might also want to have your soil tested to make sure there's nothing unusual in the soil. A good soil test will also tell you the amount of sand, silt and clay in your soil which can help you determine whether it is slow or fast draining. Wish there were an easy solution to the problem but until you know what's going on with the soil, there's not much you can do to improve things for your rhododendron.

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