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How to Successfully Grow Rhododendrons and Azaleas

Rhododendrons have over 1000 different species in their family, one of the most famous being the azalea, a popular flowering shrub. These hardy evergreen plants mainly flower in the Spring, producing gorgeous blooms of various colours, shapes and sizes. They’re a beautiful all-rounder, but what should you do with them to keep them happy and healthy?

Dappled Shade

To begin with, choose an area of your garden that has “dappled shade” to plant it in. Dappled shade is a term used by gardeners. You may often see it used in advice on where to plant certain shrubs. Simply put, “dappled shade” means an area that receives both shade and sun, somewhere where the shade is broken up by small sunny patches, like under a thin cover of trees. This is where rhododendrons thrive. Luckily, most gardens will havea patch like this, which makes the rhododendron a good plant for most people.


Acidic Soil

Rhododendrons also need acidic soil, somewhere within the region of pH 5.0 and 6.0. There’s a simple test a lot of gardeners do to find out whether their soil is acidic or alkaline. All you need is water and baking soda! Put some soil into a container and add half a cup of water, mix well, then add half a cup of baking soda. If the soil begins to fizz, it is likely that the soil is acidic. If you know your soil is alkaline, or it failed this test, you’re probably going to be more successful growing your new rhododendron in a pot with rhododendron compost. Before planting into soil, you can always dig in leaf mould, bark or decomposing pine needles to help bring the soil pH down. Don’t plant it too deep either – rhododendrons are surface-rooting and so their roots should only be just covered!

Water your Rhododendrons Properly

Another top tip once your rhododendron is planted is to do with how you water it. They love water, just not from the tap. Tap water is generally too alkaline for rhododendrons. They thrive in areas that have a lot of rainfall though. It’s best to collect rainfall in water buts for the drier periods to ensure your plant survives the warmer summer months. The buds start blooming in the late spring and summer (dependant on variety) and dry periods during these months can form the buds to fail and not flower. This is why it’s vital to ensure your rhododendron remains well watered so you get the big, lovely flowers it’s renowned for!


We’re excited to see how your rhododendrons get on with these tips! They’re such gorgeous plants and can be a statement in anyone’s garden, big or small. It’s even better when they’re free too! Enjoy your rhododendron and let it grow big and strong! We’re always here to offer any advice on your new plant if you need it too.


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