Cultivation and Care of Rhododendrons

CULTURAL NOTES: Rhododendrons are usually trouble free in growing, provided care is taken in the initial planting. Their main requirements are a LIME-FREE soil, plenty of water and some shelter from scorching sun and wind.

SITE SELECTION: A good rule of thumb is, the smaller the foliage, the more sun-tolerant. Big leaved species, and hybrids such as the Loderis, are woodland plants and require shelter from wind and sun. By sheltering the flowers from heat and sun, the longevity of blooming will be improved. However, avoid planting too close to established trees and shrubs which can take all the moisture from the soil. Also ensure that the soil is sufficiently well drained to prevent waterlogging in the winter.

SOIL PREPARATION AND PLANTING:  Rhododendrons are acid loving and prefer a well-drained soil with a pH of 4.5 to 6, though they can be grown satisfactorily in neutral soils (up to pH 7). Always dig a large hole, at least 2-3 times the size of the rootball, and incorporate leaf mould, peat, planting compost or well rotted manure into the soil. Never use spent mushroom compost as this contains LIME. A light dressing of fertiliser is normally beneficial, but avoid this if the planting compost already contains fertiliser, or when planting any of the taliensia and neriiflora series of species, which are particularly sensitive to fertiliser. Rhododendrons hate been planted too deep. Plant the top of the rootball level with the soil and add 50-100mm mulch (Forest Bark Plus) to conserve moisture, insulate the soil, and reduce weed growth.

GENERAL CARE: Newly planted Rhododendrons should recieve a light fertiliser dressing in early March and after flowering. They also require plenty of water, particularly during establishment in the first two seasons. It should be remembered that many Rhododendrons originate from areas of high rainfall, such as the Himalayas, where rainfall can exceed 190cm between May and September, compared to an annual British average of 75cm. A long soak once per week is better than a light daily sprinkle. Rainwater is best, but tap water is better than no water.

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information given both on our lists and labels. However, some details may vary according to special or geographical circumstances. Varieties offered are subject to availability.

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