Rhododendron leaves all brown

Asked January 9, 2019, 5:06 PM EST

Hi, I’m asking to see what I should do to try and have my rhododendron come back to life. Last summer, I wasn’t sure what I was doing and I trimmed our rhododendron plant. It ended up turning all the leaves brown. The leaves are still on the plant but all brown. Should I take all the leaves off and feed the plant something to try and get it back to life this spring? Thanks for any and all help!

Clackamas County Oregon rhododendrons

1 Response

Thanks for your question. I suspect it is not pruning that caused the leaves to turn brown. More likely, the plant didn't get enough water and/or nutrients (fertilizer). These are very shallow rooted plants, that need watering during droughts. Rhodies can also suffer from the soil not being acidic enough, as well as getting scalded from being in full sun. I don't know about its site nor your care, so can't guess.

You can cut off the brown (dead) leaves. Whether there is still any live tissue in the stems is anyone's guess, but you'll see whether the tissue is white (alive) or brown/black (dead) when you do some more pruning. It's difficult to say whether your plant is totally gone or not, but you can follow the directions in the following article to see if it comes back: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/news/give-rhododendrons-azaleas-annual-check-each-spring

Good luck!