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The Secret to Growing Rhododendrons: Tips from the Pros

Rhododendrons have long been a favorite among gardeners for their thick, glossy evergreen leaves and clusters of beautiful trumpet-shaped blooms. Their beauty is hard to beat, but don’t assume that since they are seen all over the place wildly they are a “plant it and forget it” kind of plant. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to grow and care for rhododendrons so that you can enjoy their beauty in your garden for years to come.

Growing Rhododendrons

First and foremost, it’s important to choose the right location for your rhododendron. Rhododendrons prefer a spot with dappled shade, as too much sun can scorch their leaves and flowers. They also prefer well-draining soil that is acidic, with a pH between 4.5 and 6.0. If your soil is not acidic enough, you can add sulfur to lower the pH. Most soils here are acid.

When planting your rhododendron, make sure to dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball but not deeper than the root ball. Gently loosen the roots and place the plant in the hole, making sure that the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface or slightly higher. Backfill the hole with a mixture of soil, manure, and compost or composted bark fines, and water thoroughly. Rhododendrons are shallow rooted, so water once a week anytime there isn’t at least 1/2″ of rainfall. Even years after planting, if there is a drought, you may need to soak then thoroughly.

Once your rhododendron is planted, it’s important to keep it well-watered, especially during hot, dry spells. Avoid getting water on the leaves, as this can lead to fungal diseases. Mulching around the base of the plant can help to conserve moisture and keep the soil cool.

In terms of fertilizing, rhododendrons prefer a slow-release. Apply fertilizer in the spring, just as new growth begins to emerge.

Pruning is also an important part of caring for rhododendrons. Deadheading spent blooms can encourage the plant to produce more flowers, while pruning back leggy or overgrown branches can help to maintain a compact, bushy shape.

In summary, growing rhododendrons requires a bit of care and attention, but the rewards are well worth the effort. By choosing the right location, providing well-draining soil, keeping the plant well-watered, fertilizing appropriately, and pruning as needed, you can enjoy the beauty of rhododendrons in your garden for years to come.

So why would you not want to plant a rhododendron somewhere in your landscape to enjoy? 

I hope this information was helpful and leaves you informed and enlightened as well as motivated to add one of these timeless treasurers to your field of vision.

Enjoy! Happy Gardening!

D. Ellen Kincer