Rhododendrons and azaleas, which are closely related, are excellent for adding bursts of color to the garden in the spring and summer. Rhodies have bigger bell-shaped flowers that protrude from the end of the stalks, each having ten or more stamens.
Because azaleas only have five stamens, a real rhododendron will always have larger flowers, but only if it is healthy and in a hospitable environment. Rhododendrons are frequently described as low-maintenance plants. They are, but only when they are planted under the best possible conditions.
It’s unlikely that it’ll be able to fight off the diseases that they’re prone to, which include pest infestations, leaf diseases, and fungal infection, and poor growing conditions.
In our guide, you can learn the answer to, why is my rhododendron dying? By the end, you’ll be able to spot the difference when rhododendron leaves dying back is natural, and when there is a dangerous problem making your plant to be sick. (Read What Kills Creeping Charlie Naturally)
How Do You Bring A Rhododendron Back To Life?
At least twice a week, water the shrub just enough to saturate the region surrounding the root ball. Because of a lack of water, the shrub’s leaf tips have turned brown, and it appears to be dying. When a Rhododendron perceives a water scarcity, it draws water from the tip of the leaf first.
Without proper conditions and care, any plant can suffer, and rhododendron isn’t any different.
Rhododendrons are shallow-rooted plants that require twice-weekly watering throughout their initial growing season. Though rhododendrons require constant hydration, they do not thrive in wet soils, so let the soil dry completely between waterings.
1. Chlorosis Distress
Plants’ leaves can lose their greenness. Anemia caused by iron deficiency or lack of light might cause this. Chlorosis is the likely reason for pale and less than dark green veins in your prized rhododendron.
Leaf-checking: They can be golden with dark green veins or even whitish. Check the soil levels and your plant culture to identify the issue.
Reset Your Plant: Reposition the rhododendron higher in the planting bed. If planted too deeply, the roots may not effectively absorb nutrients.
Cultivation: Rhododendron roots are short. So, cultivating the roots may actually damage them. Because their roots are shallow, these plants require little or no care.
Irrigation and fertilizer: Monitor your watering and fertilizing. Too much of either can do more harm than good. Examine the advice in a good gardening book.
Soil-testing: Remember that you may lack magnesium or iron. Get your soil tested and add soil amendments as needed. If it lacks magnesium, sprinkle it with 2 teaspoons Epsom salt in a gallon of water.
2. Bloom Failure
Bloom failure occurs when a plant cannot bloom adequately. drought, overfertilization, or dense shadowing. The greatest solution is to examine your care practices and make necessary changes.
Examine the Area: Examine the location of your rhododendrons. Its blossoming can be hampered by too much shadow from overhanging plants. Cut these back or transplant the rhododendron.
Fertilize Less: Overfertilization is a major cause of poor blossoming. Reduce your use of nitrogen-rich fertilizers. It may promote excessive shoot growth instead of blossoming.
Deadhead: Deadhead rhododendrons routinely in the spring by removing all the dead flowers. This should help inhibit germination. Producing seeds reduces the ability to create blossom buds, which is the rhododendron’s goal. (Read What To Put In Christmas Tree Water)
Cold Protection: Freeze-thaw cycles can cause issues, so you need protection. Rhododendrons can struggle in areas with high temperatures, both hot and cold. The freeze-thaw cycle occurs here. Make a burlap screen to deal with temperature swings. During milder weather, add more mulch and keep the plant out of the wind.
Incorrect Pruning: Incorrect trimming can impede flowering. It can also induce bare wood die-back in rhododendrons. Invest in an excellent gardening book that will explain the distinctions in pruning. (Read Pruning Arborvitae)
3. Wind, Sun, and Salt Distress
As you may have noticed, rhododendrons are finicky plants that cannot tolerate all climates and temperatures. It can be damaged by too much wind, sun, or salt.
Sunburn: Round, brown patches around the leaf’s edges or center show sunburn. To try sunburn, water the rhododendron more frequently and for longer periods. Provide a reed screen for additional shade or consider moving it.
Windburn: The rhododendron is extremely susceptible to wind damage. Windburn causes browning at the edges, especially on fresh growth. In the meantime, use a reed screen but consider moving the plant. Plant a taller shrub beside your rhododendron as a windbreak.
Salt Exposure: Excessive salt exposure might cause damage. Test the soil’s alkalinity and drainage first. If you don’t know-how, you can find a local office to help, although you can easily get a pH test kit to test for soil acidity.
Lift the plant and try the hole to three times the root ball’s depth and size. You can even change the soil to increase pH and drainage as needed to get the moist acidic soil these plants prefer. Pine bark mulch is a suitable way to get this.
4. Heat, Water, and Winter Distress
When planting rhododendrons be aware, they dislike changes in temperature, exposure, or nutritional intake, and extreme climates, such as heat, can kill rhododendrons. Besides this, lack of water, or even winter temperatures can cause your plants to die back.
Frost: Frost can distort and even damage your rhododendron’s foliage. When the ground freezes over, cover them with a burlap screen and straw. If the rhododendron keeps being hurt, move it in March.
Splitting Bark: Pay attention to splitting bark. This is a serious issue that may cause the rhododendron to die. Treat splits with tree wound sealant or grafting compound.
Drooping leaves: Try spritzing them with extra water in the early evening. It should help them recover.
Soil drainage: Look for water runoff if your rhododendron is suffering from poor drainage. If it’s too quickly, try adding soil amendments and watering deeper and longer.
Mulch the root zone: Consider mulching the root zone to the drip line. This should help keep moisture.
5. Diseases and Pests
The rhododendron, like other plants, has to deal with pests and diseases. A plant’s health can be jeopardized if either can run wild. Thankfully, you can reverse the situation to avoid further damage.
Pruning safely removes dying tissue, and this can be as minor as a single leaf or as vast as a full branch. When the plant doesn’t have to support drooping leaves or dead or dying tissue, it can focus on other flower buds and growth.
You can also try treating the plant’s stem and leaves with insecticide. If the plant is already sick, an infestation may destroy it. When using a pesticide, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Move the rhododendron if you think it’s getting too much sun. As stated previously, excessive exposure to wind and sun might be harmful. Avoid excessive exposure to wind and sun.
Moving and altering soil can help a diseased or pest-infested area. This could also help with water retention or soil drainage to stop root rot. Remember to create a thriving atmosphere for the plant.
Will A Dead Rhododendron Come Back?
Rhododendrons might be hard to grow in the winter, so don’t cut them down too soon. Many rhododendrons may appear half-dead or fully dead after a stormy winter. Gardening experts advise not to be alarmed because plants can re-sprout.
The American Rhododendron Society also lays out the conditions most rhododendrons grow in to stay healthy. It may appear you have a dead plant, but toward the early spring, you could see new growth.
Add soil amendments here and the whole plant could revive to grace your garden again.
Why Does My Rhododendron Look Like It’s Dying?
Phytophthora root rot is a fungal wilt disease that affects rhododendrons and azaleas. The Phytophthora fungus enters the plant’s roots through contaminated soil and clogs the plant’s water-conducting channels.
Poor growth, rolling leaves, and the plant’s eventual mortality are all symptoms.
1. Poor Drainage or Compaction
Waterlogging and inadequate drainage in the planting area is the main reason why most rhododendrons die. The plant will not reach maturity if the soil particles are compacted or excessively heavy. This can be seen as dark brown roots, and it will prevent flowering amongst other issues.
2. Wrong Planting Depth
Rhododendrons have shallow roots and should not be planted too deeply below the soil line. The root ball should be at or just below the soil surface. The plant will perish if the shallow roots are buried too deeply.
Because the shallow roots need to breathe, too much mulch on the soil surface should be avoided when planting rhododendrons
It’s important to think about the hardiness rating. When the sap in the plant’s stem is flowing, late spring or early autumn frosts cause the bark to crack.
Bark split can heal, but in severe circumstances, it can kill a young plant. An abrupt collapse that can be seen on the stem at the base of the plant takes 6 to 9 months to see a sudden collapse. If you spot such cracks or splits, you can paint these with a tree wound sealer.
Rhododendron Diseases and Pests
Like any other plant, the rhododendron suffers from a variety of diseases and pest infections. Knowing the most popular and how to handle them before they kill your plant is a great line of defense.
This is a disease caused by a fungus that grows on old tree stumps. It has black bootlaces with a white center that hide the roots. There isn’t much that can be done about it, so the plant gradually dries up and dies. Bootlaces can be kept from slipping through the soil using heavy-duty polythene.
If you see that the stem just above the ground has been chewed away at, vine weevils are typically to blame. They are more of an indoor than an outdoor problem for a potted plant, although they do kill the plant while it is young.
If you know your plant is about to dry out, you’ll have more time to troubleshoot, identify, and fix any issues that are causing the rhododendron to dry out. Here are the early signs to look for:
When there is a magnesium deficit in the plant, this happens. In mature plants, the veins between the green veins turn yellow. This can be controlled by sprinkling Epsom salts around the plant.
The indicator shows that the soil is too alkaline for the plant in younger plants. Iron Sulfate, sprayed around the plant, can help alleviate this while also making the soil more acidic in the long run.
Several types of fungus, as well as the humid summer temperatures, are to blame. Overcrowding can be alleviated by cutting a few branches to clean up the plant. They don’t look fantastic, but for some species, they represent an early warning of mortality.
Stems Die Back
This is typically caused by a fungus that penetrates the bark. It results in the death of a rhododendron branch stem in the middle of an otherwise healthy plant. It targets plants that are stressed by dryness, late frosts, or excessive sun exposure. To prevent the entire plant from dying, the dead branch should be taken off as soon as possible. (Learn How To Prune A Magnolia Tree)
When it gets chilly in the winter, this happens as the plant seeks to preserve water during the cold spell. This isn’t a big deal, but if it happens during the summer, it means your rhododendron is too dry and has to be watered right away, or it will dry up, wilt, and die.
No Flower Buds from Bud Blast
Bud Blast is a fungal infection that causes this. It causes the rhododendron buds to become black and die before flowering.
The Ovulinia fungus causes freckles on the petals of rhododendrons. It’s a bad one. The initial stages are little brown freckles on white petals and white spots on colored
petals. Small at first, they enlarge, soften, rot, stick to the leaves.