Rhododendron Wilt - Knowledgebase Question

summit, NJ
Question by vickilederma3
July 12, 1999
I planted several rhododendron this spring. They've done beautifully, doubling in size in only 3 months. Then, last week, all of a sudden one of them wilted on one side. 2 days later the other half started keeling over. The leaves look yellowish and are drying up, pointing straight down like they do when it's freezing out. The lower part of some of the stems is a little black, and a few stems are getting soft and bent over. As of now, next year's buds still look okay, but the leaves are turning brown and are goners.

I've treated all the plants the same. They have good light but not blazing sun. I've kept them well watered, but have waited until they just started to look like they need water first so I don't over-water. We did have about a week of nearly 100 degree weather just before the one started losing it. Why would one keel over, while the identical rhod right next to it is fine? Will it come back, or is it gone? What did I do wrong? Thank you very much.

Answer from NGA
July 12, 1999


It sounds like you have been taking good care of your new plants, and while heat certainly stresses them, it would not cause the symptoms you described. Instead, it sounds like it is suffering from a disease or infection which may have been exacerbated by stress. You might wish to take a sample to your County Extension (654-9854) for a definite identification of the problem and suggested controls, if any. In the meantime, avoid wetting the foliage when you water, trim out and pick up and remove any damaged plant debris to try to limit reinfection and clean your tools in a solution of bleach and water as an added precaution. Good luck with your plant!

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