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Can anyone tell me what's happened to my rhododendron? It's an established plant on a slope that's wet but well drained. All the leaves are drooping and turning brown. I scraped a little of the bark and it still has a green-ish tint. I initially thought it needed watering, but the ground is wet clay. What can I do for it? 


  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,238
    Can you show another photo of the whole bush? Will helps others to check on the conditions, and the full size of the shrub. Curling yellow leaves can be a number of issues ranging from poor compacted soil, water-logging and also alkaline soil conditions. Is it growing in a sunny area? Sometimes, leaves can curl back and burn due to excessive sun. They prefer semi shaded growing positions.
  • KirstyWYKirstyWY Posts: 14
    I will try to get another photo, probably later in the week though as it's going to be windy and rainy here tomorrow and it's growing on a pretty inaccessible slope.
    It's growing in the shade of some laurels and is also shaded by the house. It flowered last year, and even though it's not the most well-kept shrub (it was inherited from the previous owner) the leaves have always looked healthy.
    The soil is fairly neutral but I add ericaceous soil each autumn to the base. 
  • KirstyWYKirstyWY Posts: 14
    It's difficult to get a decent photo due to its location, but this is the best I could do.
    I know it's an old plant and it doesn't matter if it needs to go, but it still flowers so it would be a shame to lose it.

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,238
    Thanks for posting further photos. Do you have any other shrubs or trees nearby? The photos make the shrub look under cover of something over-hanging, but could be wrong. There doesn't seem to be a lot of leaves. But the leaves look fine to me on the second set of photos.

    Some are drooping a bit but that could just be a reaction from wind and cold. In time, they should recover. The brown sections look like wind burn or harsh sun following by cold nights. I personally think the opposite. It's probably looking a bit ropey due to last year's hot and dry weather. Any rain on a slope will not hold for long. Especially during the early to mid summer time. The roots are not that deep, so they can be weakened by dry and hot spells. On some evergreens, it can take up to a year to show signs.

    I think a prune back may help your plant rejuvenate. 
  • KirstyWYKirstyWY Posts: 14
    Thanks for your advice. Yes, it's a bit overshadowed by laurels. I assume the previous owner thought it would grow at the same rate but it hasn't. I watered quite a lot last year, but maybe it was the dry spring, and the winter was cold and frosty, rather than the usual wet.
    I will prune it and wait and see.
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,238
    If you have it growing next to Laurels, it may explain their wiped out look. Laurels will grow much faster and their roots may suck up available moisture near the area. Keep an eye on the watering in summer and hopefully after a prune back, they may grow back better. 
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