Rhododendron - Knowledgebase Question

Mount Kisco, Ne
Question by mbrowne2
March 22, 2010
I've had a rhododendron for years. It suffers over the winter. I have to cut off dead leaves and looses some flowering spots. And during the course of the spring/summer, it gets a little fungy. I spray it with my homemade mixture of soap, baking soda, which helps, but is there something else I could do that would be more long term.

Answer from NGA
March 22, 2010


Damage to plants is likely to happened if the plant did not receive ample moisture in the fall months. During the winter, drying winds and frozen ground deprives plants of their natural moisture and exposed portions of the leaf, usually the central portion when the leaf was curled, may become brown. This may also appear on the edges of some leaves.

To prevent scorch, plants should be well watered in November, especially if rainfall has been sparse; protected from drying winds; mulched well, and given some shade. Rhododendrons can benefit from an application of an anti-desiccant, such as Wilt-Pruf. Read and follow all instructions. Spraying should occur in late Fall when temperatures are near 40 degrees F.

If you do not get a chance to apply an anti-desiccant, you may want to provide a wind-shield such as burlap to these shrubs as well as some mulch protection around the base of the shrub. Or, you can protect your plant by enclosing it with chicken wire or dog fencing and loosely packing around the plant with dried leaves. Remove the protection in the spring as buds start expanding. Or try a teepee-like structure constructed with three or four evergreen trees or branches with their points forced into the ground and tips tied together to provide winter protection around your rhodie. Or, use a burlap covering around individual plants. Snow fencing alone or with a polyethylene plastic sheeting attached to it also gives effective wind protection. Cover the plants just before freeze up in the fall and uncover after all the frost is out of the ground in the spring.

If your rhodie is developing a fungal disease, it may not be getting adequate light or air circulation all around. Best wishes with your rhodie!

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