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Old 04-29-2009, 07:42 AM
 
Location: S. New Hampshire
909 posts, read 2,852,910 times
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We have these bushes all over our property. During the winter all the leaves were curled up and brown. Lately I've noticed that most of the leaves are nice and green. BUT, a good portion, usually on top, is still curled up and brown. Are they dead? Dormant? On close inspection I see that a single branch will have both nice green leaves and curled brown ones. The odd thing is that the brown leaves aren't dried up, just brownish orange.

Should I cut these off? Wait a while longer? None of the bushes have bloomed yet. But I notice that in the brown areas the buds are brown as well
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Old 04-29-2009, 08:17 AM
 
Location: rain city
2,954 posts, read 10,998,013 times
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They may have suffered some cold damage in the winter which caused the leaves to brown. I wouldn't do anything to them at all, especially now that they are in bud. Rhododendrons are not a particularly attractive shub. Beautiful when they flower, but otherwise lanky and gawky. They don't seem to require much care or pruning.

In Seattle there are gazillions of them. Some varieties started blooming about 10 days ago and more of them are blooming every day, yours should probably flower soon.
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Old 04-29-2009, 08:57 AM
 
Location: Mid-Atlantic
22,472 posts, read 21,502,648 times
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Anything that is brown is dead and you can clip off the leaves or branches now or wait until after bloom, no hurry. Any annual pruning for size or shape would be done right after flowering. Mine haven't bloomed yet either. I have one Rhododendron out by the road and trimmed off the dead branches so that it didn't look too bad.
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Old 04-29-2009, 12:43 PM
 
Location: West 'Burbs of Chicago
1,216 posts, read 5,024,350 times
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mine are in full bloom now... so sad that the 'bloom time' on these are so short... we had a very windy past few days, and many of the flowers blew off.

I do not trim mine often, but will do so when the flowers are gone.

I too have heard that the time to trim is after blooming, not in the Fall or Winter.
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Old 04-30-2009, 05:36 AM
 
Location: Amelia View
4,200 posts, read 12,058,166 times
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I inherited a sad-looking Rhododentron and spent the first year trimming it back, sacrificing any of its meager attempts at blooming for that year and the next, but by the third year it was looking much better. It also experienced some browning after each winter, and I just clipped those parts off once spring arrived -- since those parts were dead, there was no effect on the rest of the bush and the healthy parts grew and bloomed.
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Old 04-30-2009, 05:44 AM
 
5,065 posts, read 13,209,396 times
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I have been waiting for someone to post this very question, several of my rhododendrons have curled up brown leaves this spring. We had an ice storm this winter, and I attributed the problem to that. But a few older people I know with rhododendrons that are decades old with the same problem have insisted it's a disease, but I don't think it is. Some of their rhododendrons turned brown and died entirely this winter, which was a real shame because they must have been 12 feet tall, and very, very thick and lush. (mine are never lanky either, maybe it's a regional thing?) Once the buds on mine have bloomed, I'm going to trim off the dead leaves. I usually trim most of mine back in late spring anyway, that's the best time to do so. Regular pruning will help keep them from getting "lanky" if that's a problem in some areas.
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