Rhododendron SOS!

Rhododendron bush, to illustrate how many leaves are affected...

While sitting outside this morning (in the stifling humidity…ugh), I noticed that some of the leaves on the rhododendron were turning yellow.  From what I’ve been able to learn online, the yellowish leaves with green veins are most likely the result of a too alkaline soil.  I knew that rhodies, like most evergreens, like an acidic soil, and intend to buy such a fertilizer this weekend.

Individual leaf

I was so pleased at how much new growth this plant put out this summer and I want to nip any problems in the bud…so to speak. :)  I’ve checked the leaves for mites and other critters, and found nothing.  We have had some very hot days this summer, and rhododendrons do have a shallow root system, but we had enough rain that the soil stayed moist without being soggy.

If anyone can shed any further light on the situation, I’d be most grateful for any suggestions.


Author: nancybond

A writer, photographer, naturalist from small town Nova Scotia, Canada.

4 thoughts on “Rhododendron SOS!”

  1. My mother always added coffee grounds and tea leaves (or break up the bags) and would work it into the soil for plants that needed an acidic soil. I still do that. I’m one of ‘those’ people who won’t use the synthetics. Maybe worth a try Nancy.

    Thanks, Diane! Lord knows, we always have an ample supply of coffee grounds around here. :) The surrounding pine trees give off bales of needles every year, too — I must rake some up to use as mulch.

  2. This has been a problem with my rhodie for several years…even though it is planted in a shady, forested spot and our soil should be acidic. I started collecting my coffee grounds this summer and have been dumping them around acid-lovers. I’m hoping this makes a difference. Also…mine hasn’t blossomed for several years.

    This little fellow did bloom his heart out this spring — bright red, at that. :) I’ll definitely be working in some coffee grounds to help amend the soil there, too. This little guy hasn’t had any attention, well, probably not since it was planted.

  3. Although I did have Rhodies while I lived in Oregon for a few years, I don’t remember having this problem, and they won’t grow in my garden here, so I have no advice for you, Nancy. But I can wish you well and hope that you find the solution quickly. I know how worrisome it is to have a plant showing distress. I tend to worry over them as I do my children.

    Thanks! I do believe it’s likely the soil, so it got a healthy dose of an acidic fertilizer today, along with all the other rhodies on the property, which were all exhibiting the same types of leaves. Hopefully, it does the trick. I don’t imagine the poor little thing has been fed since it was planted. :( It bloomed so beautifully this spring, I hope I don’t kill it with kindness.

  4. It also might be moisture stress, Nancy. Rhodos need an adequate supply of moisture, although contrarily they also don’t want too-soggy a soil. The coffee grounds sure wouldn’t hurt, however. And we can take comfort in the notion that the yellow leaves will likely all blow away this weekend…:-)

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