How To Care for Rhododendrons – Guide

The rhododendron is a shrub that, although less known to the general public, is a star among gardening enthusiasts. The keys to its popularity are its beautiful flowering and its great resistance, resulting in a great ally for any garden or green space, which also needs little care. If you want to learn how to care for rhododendrons and make them grow as beautiful as possible, do not leave and keep reading this article and complete guide where we tell you all the care of the rhododendrons.

Characteristics Of the Rhododendron

We are talking about the rhododendron, azalea, or Rhododendron, an evergreen shrub that originated in the Far East. The plant became so popular among amateurs and professionals during the 19th century that its cultivation spread throughout Europe, eventually reaching even the United States.

It is a whole genus of plants with more than 1,000 different species. It ranges from small shrubs and plants of about 8″ (20 cm) in height to large trees that reach up to 98 ft (30 meters), making it one of the most common flowers in the world.

In gardening and decoration, it is most common to work with medium-sized varieties, being shrubs of controlled growth. As we have mentioned, one of its most appreciated characteristics is its spectacular flowering, with grouped inflorescences of bright pink, red or white tones, which the plant produces in the warm months in large quantities, covering almost all of it.

Its flowers are very effective in attracting pollinators, so the cultivation of rhododendron will benefit the entire garden. It is also important to mention that these are poisonous plants, so be very careful if you have pets or small children in the same space, not putting them within reach.

characteristics of the rhododendron

How To Care for Rhododendrons Step by Step

Follow all these step-by-step tips to learn how to properly care for your rhododendrons. This way your plant will grow perfectly to give you the most beautiful flowers in your garden.

Location and Climate for Rhododendrons

Rhododendron can be grown either directly in the garden soil or pots, although in the latter case it is wise to be aware of which particular species of rhododendron you have to better predict its growth potential. In any case, even a large species will grow much less in a pot, as with all plants.

The ideal is to place the plant in full sun, seeking direct sunlight for as many hours as possible. Although it is also possible to grow it indoors in a pot, it is important to find a location as well-lit as possible, next to windows with a lot of incidences for at least 4 hours a day.

In terms of climate, this hardy plant can adapt to a wide variety of climates. This is one of the reasons for its rapid expansion around the world. Its only weak point in this aspect is very low temperatures, as it does not tolerate frosts and they can be fatal for the plant, especially in its first months of life. If you live in a cold area, plant your rhododendron after winter, so that it has time to grow and gain strength before the cold weather arrives.

Soil for Rhododendron

If light is the most important point in the care of rhododendrons, the soil is the second. It is an acidophilic plant, which prefers and needs to certain degree soil with a low pH. It is necessary to provide it with acid soil or to acidify it specifically. We recommend always using ecological and natural methods for this, such as the use of vinegar or lemon juice, which does not damage the soil. We recommend this excellent soil for the care of rhododendrons (Order here).

It is also vital that the rhododendron’s soil or substrate offers good drainage. The roots of the plant are sensitive to water-logging and excess moisture will attract pests and diseases that are very harmful to the plant. Learn more about How to Measure Soil pH.

Coast of Maine Organic Natural Garden Compost Potting Planting Soil Blend for Acid Loving Plants, Bushes, and Flowers, 20 Quart Bag
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Coast of Maine Organic Natural Garden Compost Potting Planting Soil Blend for Acid Loving Plants, Bushes, and Flowers, 20 Quart Bag
  • FOR ACID-LOVING PLANTS: Organic potting soil blend specifically designed for acid-loving plants
  • 20 QUARTS: 20 quarts of soil is ideal for your planting bed or container garden
  • LOW pH FORMULA: Formulated for rhododendrons, azaleas, ferns, hollies, hydrangeas, blueberries, and other plants that flourish in lower-pH environments
soil for rhododendrons

Rhododendron Watering

In summer it is better to water more frequently and in small amounts to make sure not to waterlog. If you live in a very warm area, you can water the plant twice a day, at dawn and dusk. Do not water on rainy days, and greatly reduce the frequency and amount in the cold months.

It is also important not to water with running water if it has a high lime content, as this can make the soil alkaline and unsuitable for the development of the plant, causing iron chlorosis. If you see that your rhododendron shows yellowing leaves, in which only the nerve remains green, add lemon juice to the irrigation water or increase the pH of the soil with vinegar. It is also advisable to let the water you are going to irrigate withstand for 24 hours to allow the lime to settle, without rushing the bottom of the container.

Fertilizer and Other Rhododendrons Care

It is recommended to provide some organic fertilizer to the rhododendron during the warm months to strengthen its flowering. It will be enough to add worm castings or compost every two weeks to the soil or substrate or use a specific fertilizer for acidophilic plants.

As for pruning, it is enough to keep the plant clean of leaves and branches in bad condition. It is important to keep an eye out for pests, as caterpillars are one of the greatest dangers to rhododendrons. Check the plant and remove any caterpillars you see or use a homemade ecological insecticide if necessary. Learn more about Yellow Leaves on Rhododendrons – How to Cure.

Dr. Earth 703P Organic 4 Azalea/Camellia/Rhododendron Acid Fertilizer in Poly Bag, 4-Pound
  • People and pets safe when used as directed
  • Provides continuous feed for several months
  • Available in a 4lb size
fertilizer and other rhododendrons care
About Henry Morgan

We are the Morgan family, Henry, and Morgan, both agronomists from the University of Michigan, where we met. We are experts in putting our hands in the soil and developing organic foods and improving production processes for decades. Likewise, we have worked for companies such as Mondelez International, BASF, Monsanto, etc. currently in our role as science writers for TheGardenStyle.com as well as advisors in promoting large scale food growing in urbanized areas. In this website, we share what we are most passionate about, gardening and farming. Enjoy and see real photos on our website.