Hi, Actually, spring is probably the best time to plant in your region. This gives these broadleaf evergreens time to become well established before winter hits. It could be that your plant isn't getting enough water. Rhodies don't really like the hot, dry conditions you often get in the Midwest and will quickly suffer and die back. If you want to grow rhodies you'll need to be sure they are well mulched and watered. Also, it may depend on what kind of pine tree you have and how close you are planting to it. Few plants, of any kind, will do well planted too close to a big pine. You could be fighting your natural weather conditions and the tree so this could be the problem.