Have your rhododendrons (aka “rhodies”) stopped blooming lately? Do the buds fall off without opening, or are there fewer of them? The reason could be nutrient-related, but they also might not be getting enough moisture during the fall months. Rhodies set their buds during fall, and without sufficient moisture during this crucial time, the buds may fall off without opening come spring—if there are any buds at all, that is.

Rhodies prefer soil that is evenly moist throughout the year, but because our summers in the Northwest have become more and more dry, sometimes even our fall rains don’t fully saturate the soil early in the season. That means although it might be rainy outside, your rhodies still might not be getting the moisture they need for new growth and flowering. Check the soil around the root zone; if it’s dry, give the soil a good soaking once per week until the weather starts keeping the soil moist.

If you don’t think moisture is the issue, try adding a 2-inch layer of compost around the root zone to enhance the microbial activity in the soil. You also can visit your local nursery for organic fertilizer. Check with the experts on staff for their recommendations.

A little TLC to your rhododendrons this fall can lead to big and beautiful rewards in the spring! Happy gardening!