Thursday, 24 September 2015

Rhododendron Rescue Part Two

Two weeks on, the Rhododendron is doing a lot better. Which is not to say that the leaf drop wasn't alarming. Here are just a few of the discards - yellow edged, spotted, curled (I've selected the flattest here, so they would arrange for the photograph). As it sat in the trug soaking it threw off leaves with abandon. Not all of them looked like "bad leaves", either - plenty of green in them. But it can be hard to tell with evergreens. Maybe there had been some toxins to dispose of. They're now in the green waste bag, as Rhodies (even their dead bits) don't play well with other plants.

Rhododendron rescue part 2

The new compost was a mixture of the loam-based John Innes and a heavily textured Levington containing Rhody rootgrow, water-retaining fibres, and an undisclosed amount of peat. Seized by guilt, I increased my standing order to the RSPB. I placed it carefully, low in the pot, and hacked off the scraggly heather which is the only thing I have ever found that will grow in the same pot (or even in a different pot, but underneath) the Rhody. No competitors!

Discoloured leaf Bicolour leaf puffs
Wreggly leaves Mysterious wound

It was a sorry sight. The old leaves, spotted and stained, the new leaves, brown and wreggly (I had to invent a new word to describe their condition accurately). I also found some worrying wounds on one of the stems - maybe a crack from flexion (it never puts enough into making the stems strong) or a cat-scratch, though I'd expect the plant to shrug either off (a few years ago it laughed through a chunk of our neighbour's massive twisted willow shearing off almost a quarter of the crown, with the rip going down to the rootstock, following some pruning carelessness).

Either way, the gold star treatment (and the September rain) has my irrepressible Rhododendron back on track. It's lost leaves, but the new leaves are now straightening, greening and stabilising. I have high hopes for next year's flowers.

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