Sad Rhodo in Northeast

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by masterswimmer, May 25, 2013.

  1. masterswimmer

    masterswimmer New Member

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    Greetings all. You've got a great forum here. Thanks in advance for whatever help you might be able to provide.

    Scenario: I built our home 17 years ago. We're in NY, very close to the Black Dirt region. I was very fortunate to be able to acquire about 10 yards of this highly sought after Black Dirt. I used it as a base for all of our foundation planting beds. We planted two rhodo's (sorry I don't know the variety) on the same day 17 years ago. They've obviously had plenty of time to grow and mature. They are basically of equal height, about 11'-12' tall. We are in a very wooded area and have a very shaded property. Needless to say Rhodo's are one of the select plants that should thrive in our zone/area.

    Problem: Of the two Rhodo's planted, only one has ever bloomed. The one bloomer is magnificent. It is actually in full bloom right now and it is a huge ball of lavender/pink/purple (tough for this male to discern precise color :( ). The other one however, hasn't got a single bloom on it. Never has. Keep in mind, the plantings are approximately four feet from each other. They have the exact same soil mix. I have never fertilized either plant. They get the same sun, same watering. What is up with this?

    I would love to post a picture to convey the above visually, but this being my first post I don't know if I'm permitted yet.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
    Russ
     
  2. masterswimmer

    masterswimmer New Member

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    The non flowering Rhodo is circled. Any help?

    And a view of the full flowering one.
     

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 26, 2013
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Have you ever cut it back?
     
  4. masterswimmer

    masterswimmer New Member

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    No, I've never trimmed, or cut back either of them. I do deadhead the blooming one.

    The only 'trimming' ever done has been when our local whitetail deer feed on my shrubbery. They haven't touched this one for probably 5 years though. Keep in mind, it has never bloomed, even before the deer 'pruned' it.
     
  5. masterswimmer

    masterswimmer New Member

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    130 views and nobody can help? :(

    How about if I say pretty please.
     
  6. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Lack of blooms on rhodos could be caused by a few factors. Ron alluded to one, if people prune at the wrong time, they might prune the buds off. Otherwise usually lack of maturity (not likely here), fertilizer, soil, temperature or sun exposure. It sounds like you have largely ruled those out. It could be a bad variety that does not bloom. Are the two plants also the same cultivar?

    Any possibility of a close photo of the nonbloomer?
     
  7. masterswimmer

    masterswimmer New Member

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    Hope this helps. Needless to say the flowering specimen is on the left and growing directly next to is (same soil, light, watering, etc) the non-bloomer.

    Thank you so much for offering to help.
     

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  8. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    They look to have the same foliage, except for the one on the right being less green - maybe it is unable to set or retain flower buds due to a nutrient deficiency. You would expect it to bloom anyway, but...
     
  9. masterswimmer

    masterswimmer New Member

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    Ron, thanks for attempting to diagnose this non-bloomer. I do appreciate the help. I guess sometimes we have to say, c'est la vie.
     
  10. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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  11. masterswimmer

    masterswimmer New Member

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  12. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Also poor drainage can cause the same symptoms as too deep planting.
    The plant that's thriving looks to be on a steeper slope and probably
    is excellently drained/aerated which may not be true for the other one.
     
  13. masterswimmer

    masterswimmer New Member

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    I'm thinking the problem is sunlight. After long and thoughtful consideration, I've come to realize that the amount of light reaching these two rhodo's is not equal. If you look at the picture with the one circled rhodo, you can see a car to the right. That side of the house faces west. The rhodo's are on the north side. Therefore, the sun comes around that corner and reaches the blooming rhodo much earlier and for a couple of hours longer than the non-bloomer. I believe we've found the reason for the poor results. It has great foliage growth, just zero bloomers.

    You guys guided me through this. TYVM
     
  14. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    I did considered your diagnosis, and while I agree it doesn't account for the foliage
    color. Really the too shaded specimen should look about the same as the other one.
    Have you considered lime from concrete or stones locking up Iron or other elements?
     
  15. masterswimmer

    masterswimmer New Member

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    I agree, I believe the two specimens should look almost identical, that's why I planted them in the same location.

    My fear in adding lime or any fertilizer is that the root system of the two plants have got to be intertwined after 17 years of growth. I don't see how I could add any supplemental feeding to one and not the other. With one blooming so beautifully I'd hate to mess with success with the healthy rhodo with only a glimmer of hope to help the failing specimen.
     
  16. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    No LIME is Bad for Rhododendrons. I'm saying could you have unintentionally
    poisoned the soil with builders debris(concrete/mortar) or rocks containing lime?
     
  17. masterswimmer

    masterswimmer New Member

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    It would have affected both rhodo's equally. They are both planted in the same bed, same prepped soil, virtually the same planting hole. I couldn't possibly have done anything to one without having done it to the other. And obviously there is a dramatic difference in how they've ultimately matured. 180 degree polar opposites.
     
  18. saltcedar

    saltcedar Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    I've seen a row of shrubs where only one or two were affected only to discover a mason's burial
    hole full of limestone and mortar so I thought it wise to cover all the bases. I let the locals diagnose
    first 'cause a guy in Texas (aka Rhodo Hell) shouldn't be advising on this issue.

    One last really 'off the wall' possibility and it can affect one plant at a time is a natural gas leak.
     
  19. masterswimmer

    masterswimmer New Member

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    I'm really feeling the search party here. Thanks so much. Your help has been very much appreciated. FYI, just because you're from the 'everything's bigger in Tx' state doesn't mean you don't know your rhodo's. Heck, I'm from NY and I can tell you to avoid contact with all scorpions and rattle snakes!
     

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