I think John Kohl was right, and your rhodies do in fact have Phytophthora
root rot, based on a website I found when I googled for "rhodendron wilt":
Unfortunately, I'm not sure there's anything you can do to save your plants,
but you may find more tips if you search online.
Last year's drought was tough on all my plants, even though I tried my best
to keep them all watered -- to the point where I considered simply letting
the vegetable garden die to conserve water. One thing that occurred to me
was that, although I was diligently watering my perennials, the ground
around them might be "wicking" away the water like a sponge.
"Mark" wrote in message
I have (had) three Lee's Dark Purple Rhododendrons that I am very fond
of. I have really tried to nurture them and had high hopes for their
success. They were planted in Dec. '99 and seemed to be doing quite
well, even making it through last summer's drought (with frequent
But I have lost one and I believe that I may be losing another. They
are wilting in sections. It can be new growth or old, but the leaves of
an entire branch will start to wilt, then another branch will go. They
are in a natural area among Pine trees. Some Azeleas nearby are doing
They have no obvious signs of disease. They were planted pretty shallow
with peat moss and mini pine nuggets as soil amendments. It is odd that
they would grow for four years, then succumb during a relatively mild
and wet summer ...
Thanks for listening!
Raleigh, NC USA