Caring for Rhododendron Plants
By Trevor Onions
, last updated May 28, 2011
Rhododendrons are beautiful flowers renowned across America for their shape and light, airy hues, but they also require specific care. Without giving your rhododendrons the right attention, it's easy to end up with damaged or stillborn plants. They may seem delicate at first glance, but rhododendrons are actually a fairly hardy species. Use these tips to raise a crop that's sure to light up your property.
Planting and Growth
Before planting rhododendrons, it's important to select the proper soil. These flowers grow best in acidic soils with high sulfur content and plenty of organic matter. As long as the soil meets these guidelines, you can plant a rhododendron root ball and bury it just under the surface. The best mulches to enrich soil for rhododendrons are pine needles, shredded pine bark, and oak leaves.
Rhododendrons are reasonably easy to prune as they grow in. Undesired buds and branches can be trimmed with little lasting damage to the plants. Removing dead flowers after their blooming season may prove beneficial for the next year. This allows successor flowers to grow in with plenty of room and removes unwanted fungus from growing off the decayed material.
The chief threats to rhododendrons, like many plants, are insects and diseases. Leaves that are prematurely mottled, brownish, or appear dead should be checked for signs of infestation. Common pests like caterpillars and lace bugs are easy to banish with commercial insecticide.
Dealing with threats to the roots is much more difficult. Weevils and other subterranean bugs may tear through roots or lay eggs in them. These problems must be caught early to salvage the rhododendrons, and even then pesticides may only have limited impact in the soil. To avoid mildew problems in the roots, make sure they are safe from heavy rainfalls. Sweep any saturated, moldy mulches away.
With simple care, rhododendrons can bloom and flourish for many seasons to come. By lightly investing in time and supplies, your flowers will return the favor with their vibrant beauty.