A real gardeners favourite, whether it be a compact dwarf variety or hefty hybrid, a Rhododendron is a real statement piece for any garden no matter what the size!
When contemplating my blog I considered many different shrubs as this is a perfect time of the year to invest in some new additions and it didn't take me long to select my personal favourite. Our Rhododendrons are UK grown at one of the leading Rhododendron, Azalea and Camellia nurseries and have been given professional TLC for years. Not only are they pretty low maintenance and evergreen, they are pretty versatile. Dwarf rhododendrons are a perfect addition to a patio display in an attractive planter and the larger hybrids give a substantial, stunning display in a garden border. Being UK grown they have the added bonus of being tolerant to our weather conditions!
I really hope you enjoy reading my blog and find it interesting whether you are a rhodo pro or contemplating your first purchase. I have tried to include some useful pointers on planting and caring for your shrub to ensure you get the best blooms possible.
Having one of our fabulous, professionally grown rhododendrons delivered to your door saves you having to lug it back from a garden centre and there is a lot to be said about the excited, motivational feeling when your plant arrives home. If the delivery arrives at maybe not the most ideal time then no problem, your rhodo will be more than happy to just be taken out of its box, given a drink and placed in a cool, sheltered position outdoors until you have time to plant it.
Before planting just make sure that any weeds are removed from the area and if you are using a planter, either use ericaceous compost or add sulphur soil to your regular compost or soil.
Sulphur Soil is available on the website in the 'Garden Sundries' section, including an image of the back of the box containing really useful instructions and information. It is basically a box of small chips which help to regulate the PH level of your soil/compost (reduces the alkalinity). Lime hating plants such as rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas require a more acidic soil and Sulphur Soil is a quick and easy way to achieve this in pots and garden borders rather than having to buy bags or ericaceous compost.
It's now time for what my parents call their 'site meeting' in order to decide on the positioning of the plant, Rhododendrons prefer sun/part shade. A large hybrid would need to be planted approximately 4ft (120cm) from another plant, growing to up to 6ft (180cm) over many years. A dwarf variety would need less space, 3ft (90cm), growing to a maximum of this also in height. Get your spade out, it's time to dig! The hole ideally needs to be twice the width of the pot in which the plant was supplied and the same depth. Loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole as this will really help with the drainage, add some sulphur soil and slow release fertiliser and mix this with the soil removed from the hole. Place the plant in the hole and try to keep the rootball roughly 2cm higher than the surrounding soil. Fill the gaps around the edge, firm in gently and give your new addition some water, an extra treat would be to mulch with about 4cm of small pine chips if possible.
If you go for the more petite rhododendron in a planter be sure to bear in mind the size of your plant when choosing the pot. A top tip is to use a planter which is roughly the same size or slightly wider than the plants diameter of foliage as this enables the rainwater to run off the leaves back into the soil. Again, back fill the gaps and making sure the rootball extrudes approximately 2cm compared to the surrounding soil/compost.
Although these wonderful shrubs are pretty low maintenance, here are a few tips on how to care for it over the many colourful years to come. Keep the soil moist and water once a week in dry spells. Regularly remove any weeds as we want to make sure our gorgeous plants monopolise the nutrients, water and light! Feed your plant with an ericaceous, soluble food from February and then once every 4 weeks until September. Alternatively, just use any soluble food alongside Sulphur Soil to improve the growth and performance. It is really important to start feeding in February as this is when the buds really start to take shape. Now this is where we have to be careful, dead heading can be a mine field if we are not sure what we are doing as the new buds form right underneath the previous blooms. If you decide to carry out a heavier pruning session after a few years then bear in mind, this will dramatically reduce the chances of any blooms the following season. Lightly fork in some Sulphur Soil every 6 months as a feed and to maintain a suitable PH level. Prune any foliage which has been damaged or looks a bit ropey in late autumn and winter. The plant will always appreciate a mulch after pruning, using small bark chips. Mulching ensures the roots remain moist, this gives the plant the best start for the new season.
All of our Rhododendrons, Camellias and Azaleas come with a set of full colour instructions. In addition to this, I am always happy to answer any questions or queries you may have (with a little help from the professionals, Ken & Louise, my lovely bosses).
Thank you for reading my blog and please do not hesitate to get in touch. Also, sign up to our newsletter which I send at least once a month containing new additions to the website and special offers (see home page to sign up).