In Season: Rhododendron

May 3, 2017


Bart with Rhododendrons
Content provide by Monrovia

While they have a ubiquity that can make you take these spring flowering shrubs for granted, there are at least three reasons why you need to plant (or plant more) rhodies:

  1. Astonishing spring flowers that come in a range of sumptuous colors and seem to appear from out of nowhere after a long, cold winter. Quite the pick-me-up in the window after witch hazel shrubs flowers but before the lilacs bloom.
  2. Speaking of winter, they’re one of the few shrubs that stay reliably evergreen during the worst of the season. And, they’re elegant when paired with that other winter stalwart, conifers.
  3. They grow best in the light shade including the north side of the house (not the easiest place for plants), and thrive in acid soils, even under high-canopied conifers.

Most are hardy in zones 5 – 8, though there are a few that can take more chill and others that can take a bit more heat. Many are compact in habit and fill the voids around foundations and in front of taller shade-lovers, but if you need height, some can get large. Choose carefully now to avoid unnecessary pruning for size later. Planted now they’ll bring on a bit of bloom, but next spring, get out of the way. They’ll be cloaked in festive color.

Keeping Rhodie Happy:

  • Provide well-drained, acidic soil, rich in organic matter.
  • Avoid harsh sun and wind.
  • Mulch to keep roots cool.
  • Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system.
  • Feed with an acid fertilizer after bloom.
  • Pruning time: spring after flowering.

Pahl’s Market carries these and other excellent selections of zone 4 Rhododendrons:

PJMP.J.M. Rhododendron
One of the hardiest Rhododendrons for the upper midwest. Masses of mauve flowers bloom in spring putting on a spectacular show. An evergreen with glossy green foliage throughout the growing season, changing to a pleasing purple in the fall. Needs acid, moist, well-drained soil for best performance.

 

 

AgloAglo Rhododendron
Small dark green foliage that turns light mahogany in winter. Clusters of pink flowers in spring. Compact grower selected for its earlier flowering. Hardy to -24 Degrees F.

 

 

 

Purple GemPurple Gem Rhododendron
Dense-growing, dwarf evergreen shrub valued for its large trusses of showy flowers. “Purple Gem” has azalea-like foliage. Prefers cooler regions but some protection from winter wind is helpful.

 

 

 

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