I purchased a 4ft Rhododendron from Costco for half-price thinking
I might be able to get it healthy..it seems Costco did not water these
plants and they looked it but I picked the best of the lot. I
immeadiately gave it a huge drink then the next day transfered it to a
larger container..after losening up the root ball somewhat,added
quality commercial garden soil..anyway,it seems to be holding it's own
and getting slightly better but am I doing enough,should I be deep
watering it because of its condition..I know rodies don't like too much
watering..is this the exception? My neighbor says to give it a big can
of tomato juice for the acid? :)
With moist well drained soil, never soppy, it'll probably be just fine. It
might look crappy until next year but I've seen evergreen rhodies loose
all their leaves from maltreatment, & they survived & looked great the
following year after someone started watering them again.
It's not always the best idea to buy stressed plants, however, as they can
bring diseases into the garden. Sometimes a maltreated rhody is failing
because of a root rot fungus that could spread to other shrubs.
Soil is made acidic with compost & larger than average amounts of organic
matter & by rainfall or artificially by a low-nitrogen slow-release
evergreen fertilizer. Not by dumping tomato juice into it.
Acidity/alkalinity regards a pH reading, not an ammendment with acid.
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The first time you water it you should actually soak it in a tub of
water. I would even add a little horticultural wetting agent to the
water the first time. The original root ball may be totally dried out
inside and may sluff off water if watered from the top. Then it should
never again be over-watered (kept too wet). It should be allowed to
almost dry out between waterings. The roots need air and too much water
will cause root rot. If the top has broken dormancy, you may cut back
the new top growth and definitely remove any blooms or flower buds.
This will conserve the strength for survival. Do not fertilize until it
makes a comeback. You may sprinkle a little powdered sulfur on the soil
to insure the soil's acidity. This is a relatively large plant.
Keeping it in a pot has major risks. It would be best to plant it as
soon as possible. Container plants need to have the pot shaded so the
roots don't cook when exposed to the sun. They also need to have the
roots spread out when repotted or planted. These large plants tend to
be root bound.. When they get older, these roots will strangle each
other and kill the plant unless they are straightened out now. If fact
it is good idea to run a knife down all sides of the root mass to break
up these circular root patterns. Also, plastic pots seal out air which
is vital to the roots.
Actually you will be more fortunate if Costco didn't water the plants.
More rhododendrons are killed by over watering than underwatering. Most
of these large chain stores get good plants, then try to kill them with
over-watering, setting in full sun on hot asphault, etc. The sooner you
can buy them after they get them in the better off you are.
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Thanks for the excellent tips and advice,with this info I should be
able to gain on this potentially beautiful
Rhodie! It looks like it's slowly responding, some of the leaves were
quite brittle..they now seem to be getting plyable
again and losing some of the pea-green color shading back to the darker
green. I'll check that root ball also with a probe and see if it's
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