dying rhododendrons - Knowledgebase Question

Providence, Rh
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Question by rose714
July 6, 2008
Each year I plant a couple of rhododendrons in the raised beds I made in the front of my house. The beds have a south east exposure. I jackhammered the concrete and removed all the stones before putting down new soil and composted manure to make the beds. There is good drainage and my snowball hydrangea has quadrupled in size, and everything else does well.
The rhody's always seem to lose all their leaves and die after flowering. They never come back the next year. Frustrating!!!!!

Answer from NGA
July 6, 2008
Some varieties of azaleas and rhododendrons can tolerate a southeast exposure, and others prefer growing in dense shade, so you may be choosing the wrong varieties for the wonderfully prepared planting bed. You might consider some of the following:
America: Partial Shade. Best with full sun.
Azor: Partial Shade
Beauty of Littleworth: Partial Shade. Prefers morning sun.
Cary Ann: Partial Shade
Cosmopolitan: Partial Shade
County of York/Catalode: Partial Shade. Prefers light shade.
Goldflimmer: Partial Shade
Grace Seabrook: Partial Shade
Lee`s Dark Purple: Partial Shade
Mrs A.T.Delamare: Partial Shade. Prefers afternoon shade.
President Roosevelt: Partial Shade. Afternoon protection from full sun is suggested.
Senator Henry M. Jackson: Partial Shade
Top Banana: Partial Shade
Virginia Richards: Partial Shade
Vulcan's Flame: Partial Shade

For rhododendrons, planting soil should be acid with pH between 4.0 and 6.0. You may want to check the soil's pH prior to planting again. Other cautions include not planting rhododendrons under down spouts or at the edges of sidewalks and driveways because poor drainage, lime or salts may kill them. And finally, it's best not plant in places where other rhododendrons have wilted and died because the site may still be contaminated with disease organisms. If you think your previous rhodies died from disease, you'd be wise to remove and replace the soil where they were planted before planting new rhodies.

Best wishes with your garden!

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