We get many questions about rhododendrons at The Perfect Garden, so we have put together a few pointers to keep your rhodies flowering!
As with most plants, garden centres will sell rhododendrons when they look their best which is in full flower. This is, of course, not the right time to plant as the days are usually hot and there is a good chance of the plant drying out. I believe you can plant anything at anytime! It is actually the aftercare which is the most important!
- Rhododendrons are shallow rooters so don’t plant them too deep
- Plant with plenty of organic matter like oak leaf mould and pine needles
- If planting in a pot use ericaceous compost
- If you live in a hard water area use collected rain water to water the plants
- Keep Rhododendrons well watered after flowering from June to August. They form their flower buds in this period and with the hot weather of summer. The buds are susceptible to drying out and therefore forfeiting next years flowers
- Ensure good drainage. Rhodies dislike their feet in saturated soil
- Feed with an ericaceous plant food in March.
- If mulching, put a thin layer around the base, as rhodies don’t like their stems covered
- Pick off spent flowers to allow the plant to put energy into forming next years buds
- Pruning is best done in winter when the plant is dormant. They can be cut quite hard back. However, you could lose next seasons flowers so take care to remove only the branches that are really necessary. Look along the bark for little pink buds, prune just above these buds
- Generally flower buds are rounder and leaf buds are more pointed
- There are some neutral/lime rhododendrons available. You can get more information from Millais Nurseries