Planting and tending

In principle, rhododendrons are resilient and long-lived plants, but they do make some demands where their location is concerned. To guarantee a long life and keep them in the best condition possible, it is advisable to take the following to heart:

Just like any other plants, rhododendrons need light, water and nutrients. A growing site with light shade, for example under oak or fir trees, is ideal. Deciduous azaleas are particularly suited to sunny planting sites. If the soil is moist enough, yakushimanum hybrids also do well in sunny planting sites.

Acidic, humic soil is important for all rhododendrons. The soil at the new location can be enriched with peat but other materials, such as composted bark, rotting leaves or pine needles, are suitable too. Do not use compost because with an average pH value of 8 it is too alkaline. We recommend enriching loam soils especially well and make sure it is properly drained to avoid water stagnation.

Autumn is a suitable time for planting rhododendrons. They can be planted from September until the end of November depending on the weather. When the ground is still warm the plants can quickly take root and grow strongly in the following year. The early part of the year, as soon as the soil is frost-free, is also a good time for planting rhododendrons.

When planting, it is wise to pay attention to a few simple things:
•    Do not plant them too deep. The roots need oxygen and the upper part of the root ball needs to be level with the surface rather than buried beneath the soil.
•    Dig the planting hole at least double the diameter of the root ball.
•    Fill the planting hole with peat or, depending on the acidity of the soil, with a blend of 50% peat and 50% soil that you dug out from the hole.
•    Press the soil down well but not too firmly.

Plants that have enough nutrients are less prone to disease and pests. For this reason, fertilise your rhododendrons twice a year; once in the early part of the year and once in summer. You can use mineral fertiliser or an organic fertiliser such as horn shavings.

We recommend applying a mulch layer of peat dust and/or leaves or pine needles each year to stop the soil drying out too quickly. This layer may not be thicker than 2-3 cm.

For best results you might consider deadheading the fading flowers so the plant does not waste any energy on seed formation and more new buds will develop. The rhododendron will then be in full bloom the following year. For the first two years after planting, deadheading the flowers will also help the plant to grow vigorously again in its new location.

Rhododendrons thrive best if the soil they are in is not too wet and excess water can drain away quickly. After planting, they need to be watered during dry periods in spring and summer. However, do not over water them!

Finally, a rhododendron has shallow roots so avoid tilling the soil close to the plant as this may damage the plant.


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