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Rhododendron Buds

Hi there,

Around this time last year I bought a few 5L Rhododendrons, and at the time they had wonderful big buds ready to burst into colour in the spring. They were planted in a woodland setting within soil which is leaning towards ericaceous. This year, however, no juicy buds! The buds that are there are tiny. Where could I have gone wrong? I presume not enough watering/feeding during the dry summer, but I thought these would have been pretty low maintenance with that regard.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!



  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,924
    Hi Ben - vital that they don't go short of water in late summer when they form buds.
    That's been the problem. They'll be fine next year as long as you can ensure enough water for them. If there are evergreen trees near them that won't help either. 
    If you're not in an area of very high rainfall, it may be tricky.
    After watering copiously it also helps to use a mulch - bark or similar - to help retain the moisture at that time.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Rhododendrons don't need fertiliser - they are very efficient at using nutrients in poor soil, as long as the soil is sufficiently acid, otherwise their leaves will yellow.  As Fairygirl says, they almost certainly got too dry last summer.  Their roots are shallow - plus they were recently planted, so the roots wouldn't have established in the surrounding soil before the dry weather arrived.  Hopefully they will survive, though evergreens sometimes die very slowly...
    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • Thanks for your help both! The woodland is on a slope too, so you've confirmed my suspicions that it was down to watering last summer - time to get a longer hose! 


  • They'll prefer rainwater if you have a water butt - though in a drought, any water is better than none.
    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
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