We bought three rhododendrons this spring/early summer and planted them a few feet apart from each other on the edge of a shaded area at the bottom of a slope. Based on some brief research, the middle one is showing a lot of symptoms of root rot. Is that possible or likely in this area? The soil seems to drain well enough. The leaves are completely wilted and rolled, some have turned brown (or have large brown spots on them) and no amount of water is bringing it back (mur-acid did nothing to help either). I haven’t checked the bark at the base yet. The two plants on either side of it a few feet away appear to be OK. Should I remove the middle one entirely and start over? This has been a hot summer and I may not have been as conscientious as I should have about watering them, but the other two seem to be fine, so I’m not convinced this is drought- related. Thanks!

Root rot can happen in our area.  The possibilities are that the rhodo was planted too deep and dirt was piled up against the bark that was previously exposed or that bark mulch was piled up around the bark.  Either soil or mulch piled against the bark of a woody plant will basically slowly strangle the plant.  It was a hot summer and very dry at times…especially the last month so it is also possible that it is dying from dryness.  If it is all curled up and brown then it is probably done in and could be removed.  Check the other two and brush back the soil or mulch until you find the original soil that the plant came in and keep it that way.  Watering would also be a good Idea…a good slow soaking once a week or so would be perfect.

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