Rhodie sisters question #851232

Asked September 25, 2023, 7:50 PM EDT

I have 2 rhododendrons next to each other in my yard. They both have had some damage over the years from the extreme heat. One (right) seems to have recovered and is thriving. The one on the left looks horrible - leaves brown and shriveled. Can you help me figure out why? Perhaps, the one on the right got more water from the sprinkler during the summer or could it be the shade from the maple? Anything I can do to help the one struggling now? Thanks for your help.

Multnomah County Oregon

Expert Response

There is a big difference between your Rhododendrons, and it isn’t clear why the one is failing more. It might be a combination of root and sunlight competition with the maple, irrigation and factors we can’t see. A stressed plant is more likely to be infested with pests or have disease issues.
So, start with basics and see what next year brings. Rhododendrons have fairly shallow roots, so mulch over the area (not bark, and not too deep), provide reasonable watering, and keep foot-traffic to a minimum. Generally don’t fertilize or prune a stressed plant, but give it a chance to recover.
Resources: EC 1629 about mulching woody ornamental plants
FS 12 about Rhododendron care
A short article about general Rhododendron care

Jacki Dougan Replied September 26, 2023, 12:13 PM EDT

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