dying rhododendron

(Question)

My beautiful rhododendron looks dead! There is some growth at the bottom. Should I cut it back? Will it grow back? Was it a bad winter for them?

(Answer)

Thanks for your inquiry.   It’s awful when a plant you enjoy looks awful.  This winter, with the ice storm and the colder temperatures certainly played havoc on our gardens.

Rhododendrons, and many broadleaved evergreens, are generally sensitive to winter damage due to dessication.

Rhododendrons need well drained soil, if the soil was not, then this could be the cause of the damage.  Cover with a light layer of mulch and don’t be too quick to think it is dead.  It was a very late spring and the gardens have been slow to ‘wake –up’. Dead or damaged growth can generally be removed in mid–spring

You may be interested in reading this article fromabout the effects of this winter on plants:  https://ag.purdue.edu/hla/Extension/nle/Articles/TheRevealingEffectsofWinteronTresandShurbs.pdf

Good luck.