To rake or not to rake debris in rhodo bed

I’m debating how to manage the debris under our bed of rhododendrons, Pieris and sword ferns. There is a notable collection of dead leaves, especially after last summer’s dry conditions. I recently raked the leaves to one side and applied some 4-4-4 fertilizer. I’m wondering if I should put that leaf debris in the municipal compost or put the leaves back as ‘mulch’? As mulch, it would be an inch or two deep. I know the Rhodo Society here advises raking up the leaves to avoid diseases and such but then there is the practice of not cleaning up as much and using what’s available in the yard as mulch. If I put the dead leaves back, should I also add some mulch over that?

I am wondering the same thing, I have root weevils and I hear they like to hide in the leaves. But on the other hand Rhodos like to be mulched to keep their roots cool so I’m inclined to leave them and try some nematodes to get rid of the weevils. Less work too.

Personally I like to rake up the rhodo leaves, they are course take a long time to decompose and a great place for slugs to lay their eggs. If you want a nice mulch, compost your deciduous leaves (maple, oak, alder…) in a wire bin for the year - better yet if you mow them and dump them in with some green grass - what is that you say it’s been so dry! The green grass and the dry leaves start to heat up and next year it is dark brown like peat - I use that to mulch the rhodes and blueberries.

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Thanks for your suggestions! Fortunately we don’t have many slugs but unfortunately we don’t have many deciduous leaves or real grass (just weedy grasses) for compost. I do collect the leaves that blow in from neighbouring properties and tuck them under plants for winter mulch. Then, in spring, I take those leaves and put them in the compost pile. I did read that someone collects and composts their rhodo leaves separately and for longer. Shredding the rhodo leaves before composting them would help too.

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