I have been trying to grow these beauts for so long but still fight to have them look gorgeous....Some say full sun some say shade who do you listen to? And why do I have leaves that wither? Do I cut them off? What can I do? Thanks for the help.
what can I do & what happened
Right now I think they need a lot of water. Very heavy watering @ two week intervals. You need to know what you have. Rhododendron is an enormous genus growing in all kinds of conditions from the tropics to inside the arctic circle. Your soil needs to be ammended with leaves, bark or needles. Nearly all grow in rich woodland soil. Some like heavy shade others grow on the edge or in clearings in full sun. A few are epiphytes and need no soil at all, but that is at 100% humidity.
Hold off a little longer on cutting - some "dead" branches may just have lost the leaves and will bud out after flowering.
Last winter was tough in many areas - warm Jan and bitter Feb caused a lot of leaf burn, dead branches, etc. And MI is a place where you need a *tough* rhodie to thrive, I imagine. There are a series of hybrids from Finland(!) that are hardy to -25C or more.
It looks dryish (drooping leaves) - though in the middle of the day some will droop if it's warm even when well-watered. 1" of water a week is around right, generally. One or two deep waterings a week is better than a little every day. Once established (circa 1 year), they should need less watering except in a drought.
Exposed full-sun locations may increase bloom, but some varieties can't take it. It also is usually more stressful, water-wise, especially while getting established. Also, full sun in late winter (especially morning) with hard-frozen roots (especially without snow cover) can cause leaf burn or branch dieback (can't get water from frozen roots, and sun can heat the leaves and dry them out).
Acid soil is good, with lots of organic material (peat, leaf compost, etc). Don't plant with the rootball any deeper than it was when in a pot! If the soil doesn't drain well, plant it with the old surface a bit above the surrounding ground.
thank you all so much for your advice much appreciated..