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Hi - we got a very good buy (contractor price) on a large rhody in something like a 7 gallon pot. It's about 4' tall (above ground that is). I think the dufous who got it for us must have left it in a truck for a day or so because it looked awful when we got it and weighed almost nothing at all. I quickly pulled it out of the pot and put it in my goldfish pond for about a day and now it looks better. Altho still stressed, of course. Question is whether I should do any trimming or just work the soil (good woodsy soil) and plant it? Also, the bark looks like it's peeling (I can post another pic if anyone wants to see it). Is that ok? I don't see this on my other 5' tall rhody but know there are lots of varieties.
If it's still stressed from dehydration, I would probably leave it in the pot for a little while until it recovers, planting is also stressful for it so I think if you plant it while it's already stressed that may not be a good thing.
The other possibility -a bad one- is frost damage. Frost can cause the bark of affected stems to split longitudinally near ground level…even peeling away. This usually happens in early fall or late spring, times when the plant is not fully dormant so the sap is flowing. If noticed fairly recently after the injury and before the bark has had time to dry out, you can treat the plant as you would a graft, using a rubber grafting strip, tape, or grafting twine (no duct tape). Then seal the entire graft area with warm grafting wax or grafting paint. Check the plant monthly and REMEMBER to remove the rubber/twine if the union is succesful. Note: this problem is not necessarily visible right away; some people have reported it took weeks after the last cold spell.
If your variety does not do this normally then the weather caused the problem when the temps turned from warm (for several weeks) back to cold (below freezing). Dufus may have contributed to the problem if he stressed the plant before temperatures turned cold. Keep an eye on the injury weekly for the next month.
Well, we planted it. Had no choice really. It had little relationship with its pot anymore - the root and surrounding soil had gotten so compact that I could easily lift it out with my wrong hand. And we already had the spot picked out. Also, Dufus was out of town for a few days so (even tho we hadn't bought it yet) the welfare of this guy was clearly up to us. We haven't a clue as to variety or how it wintered. Dufus (who did a very nice job building us a new goldfish pond) just told us he could get it wholesale from the nursery that supplies his landscaping business, so at $40 for a 4.5' plant, we figured it was a good deal. Haven't paid him yet LOL)
So, with little to lose, my hubby worked the area with the Mantis and we added some rotting pine bark, and we planted. It even rained a bit the next day (and we're in a drought), so maybe the omens are good.