Damaged Rhodo salt water

Discussion in 'Ericaceae (rhododendrons, arbutus, etc.)' started by Catharine rhodo, Jun 7, 2019.

  1. Catharine rhodo

    Catharine rhodo New Member

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    One of my rhodos on the ocean side was damaged last winter as the salt water reached it during a big storm. There were still flowers on the ends of the outside branches and a few leaves but the branches are now woody all the way back to the base on that one side. This is an old shrub but it has had lots of flowers in the past. My question is should I now cut off those woody looking branches? Now that the flowers on these branches are finished there does not look like much is happening. I cannot see any green shoots anywhere on these branches.
     
  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Esteemed Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    You can prune dead wood at any time -- that sounds like what you are describing.
     
  3. Catharine rhodo

    Catharine rhodo New Member

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    Thank you. If there are leaves at the end still do I assume it is dead? If yes, do I cut all the apparent dead wood at once? Back to the main trunk?
     
  4. Margot

    Margot Rising Contributor

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    Before cutting off the branches, test to see if the cambium layer beneath the bark is still green. This may be easier said than done however if the bark is old and thick; you'd need a sharp knife to scrape enough bark away to see the colour the layer below. If it is green, the branch is alive. If the branch is alive, the plant is alive - suffering, but alive. Whatever the case, it would probably be a good idea to cut it and all the other branches back to as little as foot above ground and give the rhodo a chance to regrow from the base. Some rhodos respond very well to such drastic treatment. Is it possible to move it somewhere it is more protected? If you opt to try and save it, be sure to keep it well watered this season to prevent further stress and wash away any salt in the soil at its roots.
     
  5. Catharine rhodo

    Catharine rhodo New Member

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    Thank you so much for your help. Unfortunately it is too large to move about 15 feet tall. Good suggestion to give it lots of water to leach out the salt. Even the heather on the ocean side of it has completely died. Half of the shrub was not touched (or affected) by the salt and seems to be happy and so I imagine the shrub as a whole would survive even with a severe pruning on one side. If I find that the woody branches on the damaged side are still green in the cambium layer would you still recommend cutting them down to 1 foot? Thanks again.
     
  6. Margot

    Margot Rising Contributor

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    It's hard to answer the question of whether it would be better to cut the damaged branches back or not. It could look very strange to have only some cut back but there's no point in cutting them all for no reason. Fifteen feet is very tall! I would leave it alone until you can tell for sure what is still alive and go from there. You would want to cut any dead branches back as far as necessary (all the way if they're dead to the bottom). If the damaged branches look weird with only a few leaves on the very top, another alternative may be to cut them partway back and let new branches and leaves fill in above that point. Hope this helps. Good luck!
     
  7. Catharine rhodo

    Catharine rhodo New Member

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    thank you so much fro your guidance.
     

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