Rhododendron plants, Walmart, Rural King and Sudden Oak Death!

an infected rhododendron

As perhaps you’ve heard, recently the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), in coordination with USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), has detected sudden oak death caused by Phytophthora ramorum on rhododendron plants shipped to Walmart and Rural King stores throughout Ohio and 17 other states. Both retailers have agreed to initiate a voluntary recall of plants from their stores.

Gardeners and homeowners who have recently purchased a rhododendron from Walmart or Rural King should monitor the plant for signs of disease, including leaf spots and shoot dieback. It is also advised that Ohioans who purchased rhododendrons or lilac plants from these stores between March and May of this year to dispose of them to prevent further spread of the disease. Plants can be destroyed by burning, deep burial or double-bagging the plant, including the root ball, in heavy duty trash bags for disposal into a sanitary landfill (where allowable).

Regardless, the question remains, how critical of a concern is this disease to Ohio and what might be the long term ramifications? In a recent Buckeye Yard & Garden onLine post, Jim Chatfield and Joe Boggs answer that question. You can find that article, Perspectives on Sudden Oak Death (SOD), linked here.