CLEVELAND, Ohio — The rhododendron is one of the most colorful and varied species of shrub in the world, with their multi-colored blooms brightening gardens every Spring.

If you added any to your yard this year, be aware: They may be carrying a disease. It's called "Sudden Oak Death" and just as the name implies, it can kill oak trees.

It has been found in rhododendron plants sold at Walmart and Rural King stores throughout the Midwest. It was most recently found in Ohio.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture issued an advisory warning about plants that may be carrying the disease. If you have rhododendrons or lilacs purchased from Walmart or Rural King between March and May of this year, destroy them. Here's what you can do:

  • Destroy them by burning
  • Bury them deeply in the ground
  • Double bag, including the root ball, with heavy duty trash bags and seal them up  
  • Dispose in a sanitary landfill (if allowed in your community)

You should not compost the plants or put them out in municipal lawn waste. The ODA also recommends sanitizing your garden tools to stop the spread of this deadly fungus.

According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, both Walmart and Rural King have agreed to voluntarily recall the plants.  For more information, contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture.