It looks like your Rhodie is fairly close to the brick wall. If so, the soil may be too alkeline for the Rhodies taste. Also, I can't tell if your baby gets much in the way of shade. Rhodies are an understory bush and in the wild grows under the main canopy trees, so they are happiest when they can get both shade and sun. A soil test will determine how much acidifier you will need to really make your Rhodie happy. Best of luck to you. I am sure someone else will come along and give you even better ideas. Dotti
Thanks so much Dotti! This Rhodie gets mostly shade as it's under a porch overhang. It is fairly close to the wall, about a foot away. Do the PH soil tests in the garden supply store work well? Or is there another/better way to test the soil?
I don't know how well those PH tests do, but it seems to me it should give you a general idea of how acid, etc your soil is. That is, I can't see the test recording a 7 (neutral) if your soil is really a 6. But to be really accurate, you could send the test into your agricultural extension bureau. In the meantime, getting some fertilizer for acid lovers around your plants (after getting your soil samples) sure won't hurt. Then water well. Dotti
Although I haven't been able to do the soil test, I have changed the food I've been giving them and he seems happier. He's definitley still the runt, but he looks happier. I've also added a drip hose that I think is helping as well. I'm hoping he'll begin to fill in over the next few years.
I would speculate on other possibilities. Rhodies and azaleas are not heavy feeders and should actually be fed by heavily mulching only (no fertilizers). If you wish to fertilize, do it once in Spring but it is not necessary... provided your soil has no mineral deficiencies.
More water/rain/moisture could have helped it recover. A change in temperatures from warm to cool also could have aided its recovery. If this is a new plant, it could have gotten over from the worst of transplant shock.
Thanks for the information luis_pr. These Rhodies were planted by the previous home owners a few weeks before we bought the house. They're about 2 years old now, but during the first year I didn't know what they were and I didn't tend to them as they needed. I'm trying to do better now, with all the help from DG. I didn't realize that I wasn't supposed to feed them - although this may sound dumb, I assumed that since I saw Rhodie food in the store, that I should use it... (I can hear the ignorance in that statement as I type it! LOL) My husband and I put Cypress mulch on top of the soil. Should that suffice? Or would you recommend something else?
I think transplant shock, winter burn, and unsatisfactory care (like not enough water) probably contributed to the poor health of these poor things, but they're looking better and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we continue in this direction.