Last updated on March 8th, 2022
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Rhododendrons are beautiful plants that come in the form of evergreen shrubs and trees with variable heights and spread. There are literally hundreds of varieties, from small dwarf varieties to extremely large types. Strong and adaptable, they flower mainly in the spring so long as they are planted in acidic soil with the right amount of water.
That being said, there are still some problems you might notice with your Rhododendron after planting and even on established bushes. One of the most common problems we see a lot is the leaves on Rhododendrons starting to wilt. The most common cause is usually drought or cold weather and they usually recover once conditions are ideal again. Below we go over some of the other reasons you might experience this problem, where the leaves on your Rhododendron start to droop and wilt.
The first thing you might have noticed is that your Rhododendron seems to be wilting. If the leaves on your plant have started to wilt or droop it could be indicative of a problem with the weather. Being a fairly strong shrub or tree, most of the time the reason your leaves droop is simply because of severe cold, this is especially true for plants grown in pots. So if they start to drop in the winter, rest assured that once mild weather returns, so will your leaves.
Is your Rhododendron Losing Leaves?
When should it happen?
Things could be a bit more severe and perhaps you noticed that your Rhododendron is losing leaves. Firstly if you have a Rhododendron, you will know that it is an evergreen shrub and the older leaves will naturally shed during the spring and summer. This is something to be expected every year and is a normal process. The entire plant won’t shed but a small proportion of your foliage will. There is no need to be alarmed if you see this happening at the appropriate time and the rest of the plant usually looks healthy.
Leaves drooping and dropping due to drought
After experiencing drought when we have had long periods without rain, (I know it doesn’t happen too much in the UK!) your Rhododendron might start losing leaves as a result, starting with the oldest leaves first. This type of leaf drop is something you will likely know is coming because the leaves will start to droop and roll or curl along the edges before falling. Being aware of the weather or your watering schedule can help you determine if your Rhododendron is losing leaves because of this. You might also notice that the leaves along the top of the Rhododendron have started to brown along the edges which is another sign.
If you are not experiencing a drought, and in fact the opposite is true, it can still lead to the leaves dropping. When your Rhododendron experiences waterlogging for some length of time, it can damage the roots, causing the leaves to droop and eventually drop. Rhododendrons thrive best in areas that receive high amounts of rainfall and don’t like being dry. However, if you don’t have adequate drainage that extra rainfall during the winter months (or even during the spring) could result in waterlogging so always check that the drainage is sufficient.
Pests – Vine Weevil
One final reason your Rhododendron may be dropping its leaves is because of vine weevil beetles and their grubs. This is more common problem for plants that are grown in pots. Although adult vine weevils eat the leaves, usually around the edges, it is the baby grubs that live in the soil (and look similar to a maggot) that causes the most damage because they eat the roots. They eventually cause enough damage that the root system cannot support the plant and the first indication is usually the leaves beginning to droop. You can buy pesticides, especially for vine weevils and they can be applied as a drench to the soil.
Rest assured that most of the time you see a problem with the leaves on your Rhododendron and they are drooping, wilting or falling off, it isn’t a cause for serious concern and is something that the plant can easily bounce back from. During the spring and summer, during periods of low rainfall, it can be a good idea just to water as needed to ensure they have enough water.
Last update on 2022-03-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API