I need help with my rhododendrons

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
I need help with my rhododendrons
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 5:02pm

I am Dawn and I live in Northcentral Indiana and I am desperately needing some help on care for my rhododendrons {spelling??}

I have 4 of them,and they all have dark,almost dead looking leaves following the winter.

Is this typical??? And is there something I can do to revive them?????

They were doing so well,until after this winter. I planted them last Spring.......

Thanking you all in advance........ Dawn

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 5:16pm
Hi Dawn! Sorry about your rhododendron problem. It sounds like you had a hard winter. When you say the leaves are dark and dead looking - have they turned a dry brown? Healthy leaves will often look deep burgundy in cold weather, changing over to their usual green with the warmer temps. But if the leaves are brown and brittle - that's dieback. What may have caused this (if this is the problem) is freezing and thawing of the soil during the winter months. I would suggest that next fall - AFTER the ground has frozen solid - place several inches of mulch around the base of the plant to protect it from thawing, and refreezing. Right now - what you need to do is determine how much damage there is - and once the temps are above freezing, snip off any branches that have dead leaves. Only cut back a few inches - and start watering your rhododendron now to help it recover. You can purchase a product at your nursery called Hollytone - that you can apply in spring as per package directions. This will give your shrub some nutrition and additional acid. A half cup of epsom salts sprinkled around the base of the plant now, could help it revive. Good luck - and let us know how you make out!

~ S n o w ~



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Sat, 03-29-2003 - 10:14am
May I add for your area the following recommendations....Evergreen shrubs take "wind burn" pretty harshly during the winter months, and the best way to protect them from that is to either stake around them with wood stakes, making them at least 6 inches higher than the plant itself, and surrounding the plant with plastic....None on the top now....

The other method...get a few burlap bags from a local feed store, as they have holes in them, and cover the plants by hiding them within one of those bags each. This will allow them to breathe, get some water to the leaves, but keep the wind from burning them.

Finally, there are commercial sprays available to stop water from evaporating from your evergreen type plants during the cold months as well...."desicant's" that can be used to help slow down such burning simply by spraying it onto their leaves a few times if necessary during the winter months, but I'm one that doesn't realy like that idea much, preffering to shelter or cover my evergreen type shrubs.

As for this year,,,,,it's a watch and wait game, so don't cut them back until you find out if the bad looking leaves will turn greenish again, or stay brown and dead. If you have to trim them back, remember that the more you trim now....the less blooms you will get this year.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Sun, 03-30-2003 - 8:29am
Thanks for the advice...............I went and put the Epsom salts on yesterday.{By the way,I had never heard of that!!!!}

I will get to watering and the trimback...........I will let you know down the road how they are fairing!!!!!!!

Again,thanks bunches!!!!!!! Dawn

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Sun, 03-30-2003 - 8:33am
Thanks Mitch..........I will definitely know next Fall to take precautions.

You had some really good ideas. I will be sure to use them.

I will keep you posted as to how they are doing.

Again,Thanks bunches!!!!!!!! Dawn