Growing Rhododendron (Rhododendron and Azalea)

Pronunciation: roe-doe-den'-dron   

Rhododendrons and Azaleas grow in full sun or partial shade in the North, but prefer partial shade or shade in the South and in warm inland areas of the West. They require moisture-retentive but well-drained soil that is on the acidic side. Turn a healthy layer of organic matter into the soil before planting. Gardeners in the Deep South and West who have heavy clay soil should plant Rhododendrons so that the top of the root ball stands several inches above the surrounding soil, then push prepared soil around and just over the root ball to form a mound. Mulch after planting to keep roots cool and moist.

Removing spent flowers (tedious but rewarding work on large specimens) makes for a better show the following spring; take care when removing flowers not to damage new buds at the base of the old flower stems. Prune as needed after bloom, cutting just above a set of leaves.

Deciduous and evergreen Rhododendrons are ideal for shrub borders, mixed perennial and shrub borders, and foundation plantings.

Not recommended for desert areas.

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