British Columbia: rhododendrons not flowering

Discussion in 'Pacific Northwest Native Plants' started by tosh, May 12, 2017.

  1. tosh

    tosh Active Member

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    I have 19 rhododendrons which bloomed well for a few years ,now they put out big buds but most buds turn to leaves ? I have 5 bushes in bloom all the rest have turned to leaf . We fertilize every year ,are we overdoing it ?The bushes are growing in size well every year.
    What is going wrong.
     
  2. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Maybe too much nitrogen fertilizer and/or shade ?
     
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  3. tosh

    tosh Active Member

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    They are in the shade ,but the ones that are flowering are all in the same row.We wondered if we had over fertilized? we used a box of rhodo fertilizer from Walmart.
     
  4. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    A photo might help, they do need some sun to set flower buds. Sounds like they may be stretching to get more light.
    Do the flowering ones get more sun ?
    Basic rhodo fertilizers aren't high in nitrogen, and usually isn't used after July 1.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2017
  5. tosh

    tosh Active Member

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    OK ,we seem to be doing almost everything wrong! We fertilized last fall and as you can hopefully tell they are all basically in the same amount of shade/sun .
    We inherited them all from a neighbour 6 years ago ,she dug them all up as she didn't want them ,we planted them and some have flowered, some never ,but the last 2 years it got worse. So of course we thought they needed fertilizer.
     

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  6. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Thanks for the photo. They like their roots cool and moist with good drainage, a bark mulch (not cedar) a little beyond the dripline and kept a few inches away from the trunks is good. Not sure exactly what's going on there, but some varieties can take many years to bloom. They don't really look too shaded.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2017
  7. tosh

    tosh Active Member

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    Thanks , we will try bark mulch ,we have loads of wild daisies and bluebells that bloom under them ,so we may have to wait till July when they have all finished.After my husband cuts them all down ,we could mulch then I guess. These rhodos are at least 15-20 years old ,but they were moved ?
     
  8. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    They look healthy enough . Wondering if they all bloomed for your neighbour. They usually set their flower buds around July, August.
    Maybe some of them should have had a larger rootball when they were moved ?
    Maybe just fertilize in the spring or not at all if they are mulched.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2017
  9. tosh

    tosh Active Member

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    They were ripped up by the roots and left in the sun in August for hours before we knew she didn't want them anymore ,just pleased they all took! They all flowered for her too ,but they were all crammed in very tightly.
    We'll quit with the fertilizer completely I think and keep fingers crossed for next year. My husband religiously deadheads them all.
     
  10. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Well, it sounds like you have done pretty well with them then. After flowering is a good time to do any corrective shape pruning you think they may need.
     
  11. chimera

    chimera Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Wondering if you could have deer, that might eat flower buds, around your yard sometimes.
     
  12. tosh

    tosh Active Member

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    Hi
    We have a herd of 14 across the street which eat every thing in the front yard but the back is deer fenced .
     
  13. Keke

    Keke Active Member

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    My husband (Mister Neatsie) deadheaded our rhodos after flowering the first year we had them. The following year we had few blooms, which we thought might have been due to them having been moved. But he deadheaded them again. And the next year we got nothing but vegetative growth. Uh oh.

    A little research found me this: "When deadheading, care should be taken to not damage the growth buds or new shoots which are located just below the flower cluster." This is from the American Rhododendron Society's web site. After that, we tried not deadheading. It worked! It makes sense, really -- for millennia rhodos did just fine without people deadheading them, and botanical gardens don't have enough people to do it, but the plants still flower as long as everything else is right. Now we only deadhead if there are numbers of rain-damaged trusses that might cause fungal problems for the plant. And we don't touch the branch tips much -- we just shake the branch and the spent trusses fall off.

    Please try the "no touch" method as well as the advice others have given. It might help.

    PS. Our rhodos didn't bloom as much this spring as they usually do. We think the harsh winter blasted some of the buds. They are in a more exposed location than yours, though.
     
  14. tosh

    tosh Active Member

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    Thank you Keke, I have a Mr Neatsie too .We will definitely try this method this year,it really does make sense not to deadhead as you say, how can the large gardens manage to deadhead all their rhodos.
    We have plants with 2-3 flowers and leaves on the rest of it, it makes perfect sense.
    Thanks again.
     

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