Rhododendron blossom in July?

Coon Rapids, MN(Zone 4b)

Last winter was a tough one for my rhododendrons, and some of them never bloomed this spring. This week I noticed one lonely little blossom on one of the rhododendrons that didn't bloom this spring. Have any of you ever seen a rhododendron bloom in July?

Hurst, TX(Zone 7b)

Yes, I saw one in bloom during a visit to Mass a couple years ago. It was in September or October. Way unusual. I had to go look at the shrub up close like three times to see if it was another plant, if it was real or if it had been recently planted (thinking a nursery had forced it to bloom). I was a rhodie and I was told that the weather had been unusual that year. Of course, some of the blooms came at the expense of blooms in Spring (I was told later on that it did not bloom as much as it often had done in Spring).

Coon Rapids, MN(Zone 4b)

Thanks, Luis. It has been an odd year for plants in my area. Everyone says that their hydrangeas are going nuts, and plants that are usually prolific bloomers haven't done much. And I've had wildflowers (and weeds) popping up in my yard and gardens that I've never seen before.

Hurst, TX(Zone 7b)

It has not been weird here, just hot. The score so far is probably something like Weeds 10, Me 0. Sigh. Too hot to be out there messing with them things.

Bardstown, KY(Zone 6a)

I have a white rhodie that I planted last spring that never did bloom this spring but is now. I have also had several azaleas bloom in late summer to early fall even after blooming in the spring. Just an environmental issue sometimes. Just enjoy them!


Hurst, TX(Zone 7b)

Can you please post a picture, Doug?

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

At the botanical garden where I volunteer a couple of the rhodies have bloomed almost 6 weeks late. By bloom I mean just a tiny flower or two here and there. We thought they all had winter killed buds. But some of the buds managed to push out late. The collection took a beating from the extreme cold of -17. Heavens, I hope we don't have another winter like the last one.

Winston Salem, NC

I have a rhodi I bought last year and it bloomed prolifically. This spring it has no buds. What could it be. My neighbor has one blooming in the same (re: sun) as mine.

I fertilized it last fall.

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Rhododendrons form buds in June/July. Fertilizing in the fall was too late to be of benefit for flower bud formation. If your rhododendron received sufficient water during the 2009 growing season, then the only reason it didn't form flower buds is lack of available nutrients. For some reason your soil conditions didn't provide enough nutrients or the right kind of nutrients needed for flower bud formation.

Soil conditions can include pH. Rhodies like it on the acid side. If the soil is too alkaline phosphorus gets tied up at a high pH. Phosphorus is absolutely necessary for flower bud formation. Do you know your soil pH? Every gardener would greatly benefit from having their soil tested as least once to gain an understanding of their soil. You can do this for a modest fee by sending a sample to the University of Massachutes. Once you have those results and understand them you will never make a plant mistake. It will be the right plant in the right place ( soil wise) every time from then on. U Mass gives interpretive soil test results in a form that is easily understood by the average homeowner.

You can't rely on a neighbors plant performance to predict the same plant's performance in your yard. I've seen soils differ tremendously from "yard to yard". It can depend on what the builder might have backfilled with. Or, it could be the natural variations that are found over distance. My yard has a soil pH of 6.8. Two doors down there is a totally different soil with a pH of 7.3. That seemingly small difference from 6.8 to 7.3 is actually huge. I can grow rhododendrons easily, my neighbor can't grow them, or any other acid loving plant at all.

Be careful of the kind of fertilizer you use. Do you remember what the bag said? If the nitrogen was the highest number, for instance a 15-10-10, then it wont promote flower bud formation. The nitrogen here would be the 15. A high nitrogen fertilizer pushes leaf and shoot growth over flower bud formation. Phosphorus is the second number in a complete fertilizer. In the case of rhodies it's best to avoid high nitrogen fertilizers.

I'm sorry I can't answer your question with a simple explanation. But I hope the information provided will guide you in the right direction to solve your problem. If your rhodie looks OK other than lack of flower buds your problem can most probably be easily solved with a light fertilizer application this spring. Look for a fertilizer for acid loving plants and avoid a high nitrogen application. Since you did fertilize last fall this year's spring application should be no more than half strength. One that I highly recommend is HollyTone. It's easily found in most garden centers.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

The one other possibility to consider would be deer...if your rhodies have been munched by them over the winter it's possible the deer got the buds. Otherwise it's what snapple said.

Winston Salem, NC

Thanks so much....I have done a soil test in every part of the yard but that one...so definitely will do that (NC State does it free!). I did use Holly Tone for acid loving plants but at the wrong time, so I will do it after the others bloom.

And, Yes, it probably was the deer. They occationally romp through here. I believe that may be the problem.

You have been very generous with your suggestions. Thanks so very much.

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