This was a hard winter on our rhodos ,many dead branches & wilted leaves. Should they be cut back close to the ground? We also experienced the same problem on azealas, parts of the bushes died. Should they be cut back?

This last winter was colder, windier and longer than normal.  This was rough on broadleaf evergreens like azaleas, holly and rhododendron.  At this point all you can do is cut off all the dead leaves.  Bend the small branches and, if they are brittle and snap easily cut them back to where you find living tissue.  You should feed them with Holly-Tone in the soil below (this should be done every year).  To stimulate some quick leaf growth you can use some Mir-Acid soluble evergreen food.  Mix with water in a watering can as the package directs.  Sprinkle this food all over the stems and remaining leaves.  This food can be absorbed directly into the plant without having to come up through the root system.  It is an emergency method of feeding and, if they is any life left to the plant, this will stimulate quick leaf growth.  Do this every week and a half until mid-June.  Also make sure you haven’t piled mulch up against the base of the tree.  This smothers the bark and slowly kills it.  Mulch is good but not against the bark of the plants, any plants.

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