A cold, windy winter has left many wondering, “what happened to my Rhododendrons? Part of my shrub or most of it looks dead.” The harsh cold wind really took a toll and may have caused damage to your Rhododendrons.
Don’t rush to replace just yet! There still may be a good chance that these will recover. Monitor it until June before deciding on any pruning. One thing we’ve noticed in years past is the flowering bud is much hardier than the actual leaves on the plant.
One sure way to see if the branch is still alive is to scrape a little bark off and look to see if it is still green in color. If you see the green than the branch is alive and should recover. If you see brown or no green at all then that limb or branch is most likely dead and will need to be pruned.
We didn’t get a lot of snow, but what we did get was a lot of ice this past winter. This can cause desiccation or the shrub to dry out. This happens when the ground is frozen and the plant’s roots cannot bring water up to the leaves to replace the moisture.
Other ornamental plants and shrubs took a hard beating over the winter. Boxwoods and Junipers suffered from excessive ice and wind damage. Arborvitaes were also widely hit by brutal conditions.
One sure way to help protect against winter desiccation is to treat your landscape with an Anti-Desiccation application. Also do a fall and spring deep root feeding to store necessary carbohydrates over the winter months and push out new growth in the early spring months.