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Tackling Rhododendron Care

If you’re looking for a large robust plant with gorgeous blooms, you’re looking for Rhododendrons.  They are hardy plants that require little care to thrive, but you do want to keep these tips in mind when planting them.  Renowned for their vibrant blooms and lush foliage, are a favorite among garden enthusiasts. While their beauty is undeniable, ensuring they thrive requires understanding their specific care needs.  Take a look at our suggestions below: 

Light Needs

Rhododendrons prefer dappled sunlight, similar to the light conditions found in their native woodland habitats. They thrive in partial shade, with a few hours of morning sun followed by afternoon shade. Direct, harsh sunlight can scorch their leaves, while deep shade can reduce blooming. 

An ideal location would provide filtered light through taller trees, protecting them from intense midday sun.

Watering Needs

Maintaining consistent soil moisture is crucial for rhododendrons. They require regular watering, especially during dry spells. The soil should be kept moist but not waterlogged. Overwatering can lead to root rot, a common issue for these plants. A deep watering once a week is typically sufficient, but during particularly hot or dry periods, more frequent watering may be necessary. It’s important to water at the base of the plant to keep the foliage dry and reduce the risk of fungal diseases.

Fertilizer Needs

Rhododendrons benefit from fertilization, but it must be done carefully. They prefer an acidic soil environment, so selecting a fertilizer specifically formulated for acid-loving plants is essential. Apply a slow-release, balanced fertilizer (such as a 10-8-6 NPK ratio) in early spring, just as new growth begins. Avoid fertilizing after mid-summer, as this can encourage new growth that may not harden off before winter.

Mulching

Mulching is beneficial for rhododendrons, helping to maintain soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weeds. Apply a 2-3 inch layer of organic mulch, such as pine needles, bark chips, or composted leaves, around the base of the plant. Ensure the mulch is kept a few inches away from the trunk to prevent moisture buildup and potential rot. Renew the mulch annually to maintain its effectiveness.

Deadheading

Deadheading, or removing spent blooms, helps redirect the plant’s energy from seed production to new growth and next year’s blooms. To deadhead rhododendrons, simply snap off the spent flower trusses just above the first set of leaves without damaging the new growth underneath. 

This task is best performed soon after flowering has finished.

Spacing Between Plants

Proper spacing is crucial to allow for adequate air circulation and to prevent overcrowding, which can lead to disease. Rhododendrons can vary in size, so spacing depends on the specific variety. As a general rule, smaller varieties should be planted 2-3 feet apart, while larger varieties require 4-6 feet of space. This allows each plant enough room to grow and ensures they do not compete excessively for nutrients and water.

Rhododendron varieties we carry include: 

Blue Baron, Capistrano, Chionoides, Cunningham’s White, Dandy Man Color Wheel, English Roseum, Holden’s Red, Hoopla, Ken Janek, Lee’s Dark Purple, Percy Wiseman, PHM Olga Mezzit, PJM Elite, Polar Night, Purple Gem, Rhodo Maximum Independence, Roseum, Roseum Elegans, Scintillation, Yaku Prince

If you are interested in a specific variety, please call the store ahead of time to make sure we still have them in stock. 

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