With a range of sizes and shapes, rhododendrons hold a valued place in the landscape. They range from compact shrubs to short understory trees to 80-foot-tall giants, although most rhododendrons sold grow no more than 10 feet in height. Rhododendrons seldom need trimming, so they’re a good choice for low-maintenance gardens. There are countless species, but breeders have been releasing newer hybrids with improved tolerance to sun, cold weather, diseases, and insects. If your climate is too cold for azaleas, look to rhododendrons for a winter-hardy substitute.
Rhododendrons can be distinguished from azaleas by their large leathery evergreen leaves and large clusters of flowers that appear at the ends of branches rather than along the sides and tips.
Good companions include: dogwood, azalea, camellia, hosta, ferns, epimedium, holly and mountain laurel.
Plant Type: Shrub
Height: 2–10 ft
Width: 2–10 ft
Light Exposure: Partial Sun, Full Shade
Bloom Color: Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, White, Yellow
Bloom Time: Early Spring, Mid Spring, Late Spring
Foilage Color: Green
Special Features: Attracts Butterflies, Fragrant Flowers, Low Maintenance
Uses: Container Plant, Cut Flowers, Screen/Privacy, Foundation Plant, Informal Hedge
Like azaleas, rhododendrons prefer more sun in the North, more shade in the South. A good situation in either case is dappled shade throughout the day or morning sun and afternoon shade. Ample moisture and good drainage are essential. A slightly acidic pH is preferred. Keep the shallow roots moist with a layer of mulch, preferably leaf litter, compost, pine chips or pine straw. Shelter from wind, which can desiccate leaves. Plant multiple cultivars to extend the bloom season.
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