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jason_carlton26

Advice on relocated Elegans Rhodo

I moved my 10 year old +/- rhodo about 50' to the West in late September 2020. I had 2 next to one another, but they were much larger than I expected so I had to move one to change up the garden pattern. It was getting too much sun, anyway, and sometimes burned leaves.


I ran a garden hose to it, and would turn it on half-pressure for 30 minutes or so 3 or 4 times a week, depending on rain and general temperatures.


It looks like about 85% of the leaves have died away, and the remaining green ones are super droopy. I have 4 or 5 new limbs coming from the roots so I know that at least the roots have survived, but are the existing limbs salvageable?


From the front, South facing North; please ignore the weeds underneath!




From the East facing West; you can see a layer I'd taken from the other rhodo at the same time is doing fine:




Here you can see some of the new growth:






Close up of the wimpy remaining leaves:





Comments (7)

  • Embothrium
    6 days ago

    Sorry I think your plant is a loss at this point.

  • Jason, zone 7A, near Greensboro NC
    Original Author
    6 days ago

    Even the new growth near the roots?


    I'd been told that these plants were hard to kill, but I'm not having that much luck! I've had 2 layers survive, 3 layers die, and then this relocation :-/

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    "Even the new growth near the roots?"

    Just a last ditch effort to hold on to life. But I agree with Embothrium that the shrub is 99% a goner at this point.

    btw, rhododendrons are extremely easy to kill if you do not provide them the cultural conditions they need.

  • Jason, zone 7A, near Greensboro NC
    Original Author
    6 days ago

    Well, shoot. I thought with it only being 50' from the original home, and close to another layer I'd successfully transplanted a few years ago (not pictured), everything would be good :-(


    Would there be any benefit to cutting out the old limbs and try to help the new growth survive?


    If not, how much time would you give it before giving up hope and pulling it all out? I have a few other layers started from 2 or 3 years ago, so it's not a tragedy to try to replace it with one of those layers... I really didn't want to wait another 10 years for it to fill in, but I guess there's not much of a choice :-(

  • Embothrium
    6 days ago

    That one shoot at the bottom doesn't even have leaves - time to let this one go!

  • luis_pr
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    I have gotten them to recover without any foliage and with single shoots before but it is "personal time consuming". They either come back from the lower part of the trunk (like that one shoot) or from the ground. It definitely would be easier to plunk some moolah at a plant nursery to get a larger, healthier and growing plant (but that of course costs oodles $$$).

    It is important that you realize what you would be getting into if you decide to keep it. It will need to be monitored as if it was a brand new plant that you planted on day 1; it will need closer inspection for heat stress in the summer; it will need more TLC than you were spending with it before.

    I have had other plants return from similar shoots like that, an Indian Hawthorn and a camellia. I currently have a few Indian Hawthorns that got frozen in February and were dead looking for two months and then started throwing shoots like that 2 weeks ago. Those frozen plants may still die during my stressful summers but, oh well. We will see. I would rather keep them if I can. I would maintain injured rhodies in ideal conditions (like, the soil should be as consistently moist as you can make it). Once I see recovery, I restart my usual fertilizer program and cut dead branches by doing a scratch test. Before pruning dead branches, I wait, wait and wait... around 2-3 months when a very serious injury/damage happens... unless there are other issues that might surface and that might make me prune earlier (fungal infections, etc.).

    If you try to save it and cannot salvage it, consider it an experience and learn from it. But again, realize that it will take years to return back to its glory. If you want a quick fix, yank it out and buy an established plant from one of your local gardening clubs' sales.

  • Jason, zone 7A, near Greensboro NC
    Original Author
    6 days ago

    I might just buy a new one if I can, @luis_pr :-( I plan to buy a bunch of fruit and nut trees this Fall, anyway, so what's another couple of hundos? LOL I really wanted 4 to hide the fence behind it, anyway, and the layers I've taken never seem to fill out and look the way I want.


    Working on the garden is my stress reliever from work (and believe me, I have a TON of stress these days!), so I definitely don't mind spending some time on babying it. But I'm also trying to be practical... I don't want to die of old age before it fills in and looks right, ya know?


    @Embothrium , those new shoots DID have leaves, but we had a late frost a week or so ago and they fell off. I tried to follow the playbook to the letter on this one... there's a layer about 10' to the East that I planted at the same time, and it's fine. And there's a layer about 20' to the Southwest that I planted a few years ago, and it's fine and blooming (although it hasn't filled out at all). So the issue shouldn't be soil or water, and it's odd that the frost hurt the one but not the other new layer... I'm truly lost on what I did wrong.


    I like to order from the local nursery in advance, so I think I'm going to go ahead and order 3 new ones for a Fall delivery, as mature as they can get them. I can spend the rest of the year trying to save it, and worst case scenario I'll pull it out when the new ones are delivered. Best case scenario, it recovers and I'll plant the new ones somewhere else :-)

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