Due to its vivid colors and relatively low maintenance, the rhododendron is a highly sought-after plant. Rhododendron, which grows natively in Camas, Washougal, and Vancouver, Washington and, no doubt, throughout most of the Northwest, isn’t hard to come by. From planting to pruning, this post will explain how to properly care for a rhododendron. If you don’t already have one, this post will get you ready for a rhodie of your own.
A rhododendron will only flourish if planted correctly, so it’s important to be aware of some parameters and requirements. Timing is everything. When the danger of frost has long faded, and spring has finally shown its face, it’s high time to plant your rhodie.
Locate a spot in the yard that is free of deep shade, but is also out of the full force of the sun. Ideally, the plant should get about 6 hours of sun per day. Once the perfect spot has been selected, you need to dig your hole. Rhododendrons have shallow root systems and, if planted too deeply, will rot. Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and wide enough to offer about two feet on every side. Carefully place the plant in the hole, ensuring the top roots are at soil level or just slightly below.
After installing, fill the hole halfway with soil, and water the area. The watering process will force the first layer of dirt to settle and become slightly compacted. After the initial watering, fill in the remainder of the hole with fresh soil.
After the plant is in the ground and has had time to grow, it will no doubt need proper care. As with any plant in the Northwest, watering is the key to a happy and healthy life. Your rhodie will require around one inch of water per week. If, for some inexplicable reason, our Washington weather isn’t providing the adequate water levels, then it’s important to compensate accordingly.
A common misstep people often make with rhododendrons is over fertilizing. Frequent fertilizing will cause the plants to burn. Fertilization should only occur during the spring when the buds are swelling.
Rhododendron flowers are some of the most beautiful in the Pacific Northwest, so it’s imperative they are pruned correctly. To promote vegetative growth, rhodies can be “deadheaded” anytime during the year. Deadheading is the process by which dead blooms (aka “heads”) are cut off the plant. It’s worth noting that while in bloom, a rhododendron should never be pruned. Next years buds aren’t too far below/behind the flowers. Pruning is best done during the fall (or whenever the heads start dying off). At the risk of sounding obvious, make your cut directly above the next bud down the stalk.
For more information about proper general pruning and trimming, click here.
Planting and maintaining a rhododendron plant is a relatively painless process. With the correct planting and pruning techniques, you’ll have a thriving rhodie in no time at all. If you have any questions regarding rhododendrons or would like assistance with maintaining your yard, Urban Eden is happy to help. Call us today at 360-567- 6399, contact us here, or simply fill out our FREE online estimate request.