Holly and Rhododendron Leaves Turning Brown

aceschbornApril 22, 2014

We have holly and rhododendron plants on the west side of our home that are not looking so great after the brutal PA winter. A lot of the leaves are brown and the branches dead (snap). We've been in the house for 8 years and this is the first time these two plants haven't looked good.

What is the proper care for these plants? Should I trim back all of the dead spots?

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Second picture attached...

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 1:48PM
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If the branches are dry, brown and there is no green cambium layer visible when you scrape away a bit of the bark, then trim back to a point where you do find green cambium. I'd wait a while, however. Everything is very late this year because of the very difficult winter and delayed spring. You have nothing to lose by being patient of another two or three weeks before doing anything.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 5:43AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

the answer is the same ..no matter the plant ..

you wait until they leaf out.. to determine what is dead...

which means give them a month or two ...

maine is correct.. for one with vast experience ... i use the default ..

black mulch is a nightmare .. if there is no snow cover ... as it heats the soil.. in mid winter .. causing plants to go in and out of dormancy .... which is not good..

and that doesnt even contemplate august .. and what black mulch can do on 100 degrees days .. other than cook an egg on it ...

if and when it comes time to mulch.. think long and hard about going without a color.. just go with the natural gray of dry old wood chips ...

so.. in that equation.. if hot and dry last summer.. due to mulch.. then it went into a horrible winter ... in less than prime conditions .. so who is to tell what caused the problem??? .. if not all the variables ...

all that said.. being next to the A/C makes it even worse ... with all that hot wind in the heat of summer..

they are also planted about 3 to 5 feet too close to the house... never forget.. plants are planted to HIDE the foundation.. not ON THE FOUNDATION ... these plants were planted.. as to siting.. as to the size they were in the pot.. like they would never grow again for the rest of their lives .... and they are close to a reflective wall.. when the heat is the highest in later afternoon and early evening.. on a west wall ...

apparently they have been coping well for 8 years ... and something last summer ... fall. or winter did it.. my point being.. it might nall be winter damage .. though that is when the damage showed ...

all that said ... i know you have the same fever i have.. but its just too early.. to make snap decisions ... just put down the pruning shears.. and step away .. lol ..


ps: there isnt landscape fabric under the black mulch.. is there??? if so.. you might have water issues ...

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 7:42AM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

That second plant sure looks like a Cherry laurel to me.

Has it bloomed for you?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 3:53PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Yes, I was going to say it doesn't look like a Rhododendron. I'd say it was Prunus laurocerasus.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:30PM
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Thank you everyone for your feedback and responses!

FYI, I'm a plant noob, so likely the rhododendron isn't actually a rhododendron, but probably the same family(?).

I'll give it another month before I think about doing anything...

Ken, I do not believe there is landscape fabric under any of the mulch. I've done some digging, planting, and replanting and never encountered it.

Thanks again, everyone!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2014 at 12:35PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Not even in the same family, actually. Just a superficial resemblance in the leaf shape.

I agree with Ken that the AC vent is probably not helping.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 1:30PM
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