Rhododendrons: Guide to Planting, Growing, and Care

There’s good reason that Rhododendrons are one of the most popular landscaping plants in the world. Their long life, beautiful flowers, unique, mostly evergreen foliage, beautiful shape, and ease of care make them a reliable standout in any perennial garden.

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Where to plant your Rhododendron

Dappled shade is optimal

It’s a common misconception that Rhododendrons only like deep shade. While this is true of some varieties, it’s not true for all. In fact, if you deprive certain varieties of sun, they’ll only produce a few flowers each year. In the wild, Rhododendrons are found at the edges of woodlands where they thrive in dappled shade. Find a similar setting in your home garden – afternoon or dappled shade, soil that drains well, and shelter from cold, drying winds.

Early morning sun is perfect

The flower buds on spring-blooming rhodies require light in late summer and fall to stimulate flower bud development. If light is too low, the flower show will be minimal. Make sure the plant receives enough direct light, but not so much that the leaves burn. A good rule of thumb is to site it where it will receive direct sunlight until midday and then afternoon shade.

Give it a little shelter from wind

Persistent wind, especially in winter, can damage or desiccate the foliage. If you must plant it in a particularly windy location, consider building a windbreak around the plant for the coldest months – wrap burlap around it, but do not let the burlap contact the plant.

Avoid sidewalks and foundations

Do not plant a rhododendron next to a sidewalk or other cement structure, as the lime that leaches from the concrete creates an alkaline soil. Rhododendrons need just the opposite – an acidic or at least slightly acidic soil. If you must plant near a concrete structure, monitor the soil’s pH annually, and add appropriate amendments to lower the pH.