jason_weber91

Azalea(encore) Rhody(pjm elite) issues...please help!

Jason Weber
4 days ago

I'm stumped at this point as to what is going on with a few encore azaleas I have, and 2 pjm elite rhododendrons. I'm getting the occasional branch on the azalea(maybe 2 or 3 out of the 20ish encores I have are doing this) I have just been pruining them out but I'm afraid I'm going to eventually prune them to nothing and I really need some help solving this. pictures are below. the azaleas are in the ground and the Rhodys were until I suspected some sort of root rot so I dig them up and threw them into containers about a month ago and they are basically frozen in time and not dying anymore but also not growing. All are less then 1 year in the ground. All are mounded up when planted atleast 1 to 2 inchs above soil line. I did fertilize 2 twice(probably shouldn't have done this) with low rates of hollytone. the rhododendrons that were removed and placed back into containers were on both the near and far side of the picture with the other 2 of the same rhododen which are doing great. The soil was heavily amended with pine bark soil conditioner and when I dig them up the ground was not at all wet but definitely had some moisture to it. The roots also looked fine. I'm just stumped at why the crispy orange on the azaleas on random branchs and why the wilting on rhododendrons? Fertilizer burn or Phytophthora was my first guess but again the ground was not at all wet and the soil was loose and well amended, they are all planted on a hillside as well. I did the hollytone twice but once was in early march and again right after flowers set both times a low rate. So confused any help would be greatly appreciated. first 3 pics are of azaleas and last 3 is of the pjm elite Rhodys(2 still remain in the ground and one was removed in front of and one behind those)

Comments (10)

  • Jason Weber
    Original Author
    4 days ago

    btw they are planted on the east side of that fence and get about 6 hours of sun behind that retaining wall where the rhodoys are is much shadier, morning sun for a few hours then dappled the rest of the day

  • davidrt28 (zone 7)
    4 days ago
    last modified: 4 days ago

    Yes you made mistakes. I have a collection of rhodies that has been praised for their health and I have never fertilized a nursery bought plant in the first couple years, at least. They have very low fertility requirements. Indeed, it could well have made them more susceptible to root rot; given that you are also planting encore azaleas, heavily marketed in the SE US, I'm going to surmise you are somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon where traditional rhodie varieties including the northeastern-bred lepidotes like PJM become difficult. You really need to state roughly where you are.

    Here's some good advice to newbies: if you see in your area, large, mature examples of something you are buying at a big box store or nursery, there's a good chance it will do well. If you don't, there's a good chance it won't. Consider I-95 corridor elevation under 500': If you live on the mainline of Philly, every 4th house will have an ironclad rhodie reaching to the second story windows. If you're in Richmond, VA, you are going to see a few here and there. South of that...I myself have never seen one but I know there are people down there who do collect them but those are enthusiasts willing to fuss over them. I'm not counting the Southgate/hyperythrum hybrids, which are in my opinion the only elepidote rhodies that non-specialists should be planting south of the Mason-Dixon and at low elevation. Or the special lepidotes bred to do well there, there are a couple but their name escapes me, one was bred by the Dodds.

  • Jason Weber
    Original Author
    4 days ago

    Thank you david, I'm technically in zone 6b however its probably closer to 7a in all reality. South westestern tip of Indiana. We have crazy climate swings here, we regularity are in the 90s from june into september and our winters rarely get below 5 to 10 degrees for a day. This year we had an exceptionally warm winter. We have had a high of 79 this week and the rest is predicted in the 90s....this is very commonplace. We also have very regular rainfall throughout the entire year.

  • Jason Weber
    Original Author
    4 days ago

    furthermore I should have been more clear, the rhododendrons were planted in march and the azaleas have been there for a year almost exactly.

  • Jason Weber
    Original Author
    4 days ago

    I also have 6 southgate rhododendrons breeze, radiance, and grace....all of which are doing well.

  • Jason Weber
    Original Author
    4 days ago

    our elevation is 387'

  • Jason Weber
    Original Author
    4 days ago

    sorry to ramble just trying to be thorough and I dont know how to edit my initial comment. mature rhododendrons are everywhere in my city including the particular ones I'm having difficulty with. Can anyone diagnose the orange ?

  • davidrt28 (zone 7)
    4 days ago

    ok you are not as far south as I thought; I remember seeing some rhodies in Louisville when I went there years ago for business. You should be fine with either the right traditional varieties OR the hyperythrum hybrids like the Southgates. Be forewarned some of the "Encores" may not be hardy in really cold winters like 2013-2015. There are old threads somewhere here about that.


    Don't amend planting holes. If you need to do something like that, raised beds would be the way to go, but unless you have really awful soil (and you probably don't) just planting rhodies on a slight mound should be sufficient.


    Don't fertilize newly planted permanent trees and shrubs if they were standard wholesale produced plants, but especially not Ericaceous ones. They were already pumped full of fertilizer to get them sized up for sale. You need them to start building a root system not be spoon fed more in their planting hole.




  • Jason Weber
    Original Author
    3 days ago

    thank you so much, for you help, I really appreciate it!

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