Caring for a rhododendron: What to do
Rhododendrons are easy to maintain. They are hardy and therefore strong enough to survive the winter. Minimal care will allow you to enjoy your plant for an extra-long time. Just follow these tips!
How to keep your rhododendron in top condition
- Position: the rhododendron is a hardy plant that prefers a semi-shady spot. It thrives in the presence of other shrubs, but don’t plant it too close to shallow-rooted trees.
- Soil: rhododendrons prefer a slightly acidic soil. A friable, humus-rich and porous soil will offer the best result. The right soil is crucial. Apart from that, this plant is pretty undemanding.
- Water: rhododendrons do not like being waterlogged. Keep the soil moist but not too wet. Tip: keep the moisture level stable by regularly mulching with leaf compost.
- Light: rhododendrons grow best in light shade or semi-shade. Avoid dark spots, as these will stymy a rhododendron’s growth; conversely, too sunny a spot will make the plant dry out.
How often should you water a rhododendron and how much water should you give?
Rhododendrons need water, but not excessively so. Keep an eye on the soil, which should feel moist to the touch. Take special care during the first few weeks after planting. Sufficient water is important because it will ensure you plant has glossy leaves and abundant blooms and provides the densest cover. A well-hydrated plant will also be able to withstand longer dry spells.
Note: Rhododendrons dislike being waterlogged.
Should you fertilise your rhododendron?
Most garden centres stock specific rhododendron compost, enriched with magnesium or iron. Especially in autumn, your rhododendron will appreciate some fertiliser. In spring, it’s best to feed the plant universal compost. And a good watering during long dry periods.
Taking cuttings from your rhododendron
Here's how to take cuttings:
To do so, you will need humus, sand, a knife, a plastic bag and a pot of rooting powder. Here’s a step-by-step guide to preparing your cuttings for planting. Many rhododendrons are also propagated using in-vitro laboratory techniques.
Pruning your rhododendron
The best time to prune your rhododendron is shortly after flowering, i.e. in May or June. Cut off its dead flowers but take care not to damage any new buds. You don’t need to do this every year. But doing it once in a while keeps the plant’s branches in good shape and lets the rhododendron focus on growing instead of making seeds.