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Question: 893-813
My PJM Rhododendrons have had a rich red color unlike the usual fuchsia color. I have tried stem rooting and cuttings but they come out that fuchsia color. They also have a deep bronze colored leaf in the fall. Any suggestions? Rob, Worcester, MA

Mort's Answer:
Your soil is probably very rich in iron. I would raise the plants in the same soil. When they are about five years old they should acquire that redness again. Another remote possibility is the red is a recessive gene. You can try pollinating with a Q-tip when they are open in the spring. Take the seed from the flowers, dry them, and start the seeds indoors in the fall. You may get lucky and start a whole new variety. It is more likely your soil will prove to be the variance.

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Question: 944-2113
My rhododendrons have brown leaves. I have year old wood chops around them. I was told not to put manure around them because it would increase the acidity. Jill, Templeton, MA

Mort's Answer:
Rhododendrons love acidic soil. Your problem is fertilizer balance. Wood chips that are not aged will rob the soil of nitrogen. Aged manure will add nitrogen from the air to the soil. Manure will help rot the wood chips and add to the process. It is likely that they may have a fungus . I would wait until later to see if this browning continues. It is more likely that you have a frost burn. You can spray with Benlate later for the fungus.

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