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Rhododendrons are grown for their impressive flowers which usually bloom during the spring time. They come in an incredible range of colours, and make a beautiful feature in any garden.

There is a slight difference between Rhododendrons and Azaleas. The easiest way to distinguish between the two types is by counting their stamens. Rhododendrons have ten or more stamens in their flowers while Azaleas have five. Rhododendrons also tend to grow taller than Azaleas, which grow outwards rather than up.

Planting and Conditions

Rhododendrons should be planted with a root ball, if the plant is field grown, or with their container mix if they are container grown. In more favourable climates, rhododendrons can be planted at any time of year. In hotter areas, planting in the autumn is recommended and if you are planting in a cold climate, early spring planted is preferred.

Plant the rhododendron high in light, well-draining soil. Rhododendrons and Azaleas generally need an acidic soil with a pH of around 5.5. Soils with pH higher than 5.5 should be acidified before planting Rhododendrons.

If you have alkaline soil, you will need to grow your rhododendrons as container specimens as reducing soil pH is not a simple task.

Most Rhododendrons with tolerate a more open site as long as they are sheltered from cold, dry wings. Avoid frost pockets, and sites that are in direct early morning sunlight.

Aftercare and Pruning

Rhododendrons, in general, do not require a great deal of pruning aside from the occasional removal of dead wood and dead or spent flowers. Many rhododendrons do respond well to a hard cutting back, especially deciduous Azaleas and rough-barked Rhododendrons.

You may prune out crowded shoots and diseased or damaged shoots in order to contain and limit the growth of the shrub if it is necessary. Most rhododendrons respond well from mulching and feeding after pruning. Use a high-potassium fertiliser and mulch with well-rotted compost or leaf mould.

Potential Issues

Sometimes Rhododendrons can fall prey to bud-drop, or could simply not flower. A short period of dryness in the late summer months can restrict the flowers from blooming, and buds failing to form. To prevent this, mulch and water thoroughly and regularly during dryer periods from July onwards.

Leaf drop can also occur following a period of drought and hot weather. Water thoroughly if drought has occurred. It can also appear following waterlogging. To aid this, apply bark to absorb some of the water and feed it with continuous release plant food after the danger has passed. This will help the plant rebuild its root system.

Although it may sound counter-intuitive, water the plant regularly after periods of waterlogging as it will be far more susceptible to drought stress in the future.

Pests that bother rhododendrons include vine weevils and scale insects. These can both be eliminated with pesticides, but don’t spray pesticides in the daytime when pollinators are active.

There are quite a few rhododendron-specific diseases which are mainly fungal. These include bud blast, powdery mildew, petal blight, azalea leaf gall, leaf spots and rust. They are also affected by more generalised diseases such as honey fungus, root rot and silver leaf.

The majority of these diseases can be treated with a fungal spray, the removal of infected plant matter and the destruction of said plant matter. However, there are no chemical controls for root rot, and honey fungus is fatal to the infected plant and other surrounding plants.

The best course of action to rid honey fungus from your garden is by burning all affected plant matter.

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Yellow Rhododendron Leaves: Why Are Leaves Turning Yellow On Rhododendron

You may baby your rhododendron, but the popular shrubs can’t cry if they are not happy. Instead, they signal distress with yellow rhododendron leaves. When you ask, “Why does my rhododendron have yellow leaves,” the answer could be anything from improper irrigation to incorrect planting to inappropriate soil. You’ll have to evaluate your cultural practices to determine the problem and take appropriate steps for treating yellowing rhododendrons.

Why Does My Rhododendron Have Yellow Leaves?

Before you begin, make sure that what you are seeing is not just leaf senescence – old leaves falling off at the end of their two or three year life. This happens just before winter or in summer drought.

Yellow rhododendron leaves often represent the plant’s expression of dissatisfaction with its care. Rhodies are picky about the soil you plant them in and about how much water they like. If you see your rhododendron leaves turning yellow, review each and every element of the plant’s care.

First, take a look at how well your soil drains. This shrub doesn’t do well in wet soil, and “wet feet” can cause leaves turning yellow on rhododendron. Give the plant a deep drink, then watch at how fast the water soaks into the soil. If your drainage is bad, transplant the shrub sooner rather than later to a location with well-drained soil.

Test your soil’s acidity with a home pH tester. If your soil is alkaline, you’ve found one reason for rhododendron leaves turning yellow: mineral deficiency causing chlorosis. These shrubs take up too much calcium and not enough iron in alkaline soils.

Chlorosis is very likely when the yellowing is mostly between the veins of new leaves. Although it is possible to acidify the soil with sulfur, transplanting the shrub to a raised bed might be the best and quickest solution to rhododendron leaves turning yellow from chlorosis.

Treating Yellowing Rhododendrons

Another reason for yellow rhododendron leaves might be the way you planted the shrub. Rhododendrons should be planted with the root ball just at the soil surface. If you can’t feel the root ball in the soil, you have planted it too deeply. Replant at the proper level. This takes care of leaves turning yellow on rhododendron because of planting depth.

Lack of water or food may also cause leaves turning yellow on rhododendron. You should give the plant fertilizer in late May to June. If you forgot this year, feed it now and, while you are at it, give it a good drink. If it perks up, you have found the problem.

If none of these seem to describe your plant’s problem, ask yourself whether you have applied chemicals to its leaves lately. Misapplied chemicals can burn foliage, resulting in yellow rhododendron leaves.

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