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 requires little care.
If you want to learn how to grow rhododendrons and make them grow as beautiful as possible, don’t go away and keep reading us in this article and complete guide from EcologíaVerde where we tell you all the rhododendron care.
We are talking about the rhododendron, azalea or rhododendron, an evergreen shrub that has its origin in the Far East. The plant became so popular among hobbyists and professionals during the 19th century that its cultivation spread throughout Europe, eventually even reaching the United States.
Actually it is a whole genus of plants that has more than 1,000 different species. It ranges from small bushes and plants around 20 cm high, to large trees that reach up to 30 meters, thus being one of the most common flowers in the world.
In gardening and decoration, the most common is to work with medium sized varieties, being shrubs of controlled growth. As we have mentioned, one of its most appreciated features is its spectacular bloomwith grouped inflorescences of bright pink, red or white tones, which the plant produces in large quantities in the warm months, covering almost all of it.
Its flowers are very effective at attracting pollinators, so growing rhododendrons will benefit the entire garden. It is also important to mention that these are poisonous plantsso you have to be very careful if you have pets or small children in the same space, not putting them within their reach.
In these other articles that we recommend you can consult the Types of evergreen trees or What are the most poisonous plants in the world
Location and Climate for Rhododendron
Rhododendron can be grown both directly in the garden soil and in a pot, although in the latter case it is convenient to be aware of what specific species of rhododendron we have in order to better predict its potential growth. In any case, even a large species will grow much less in a pot, as with all plants.
Ideally, place the plant full sun, seeking direct incidence during all possible hours. Although it is also possible to grow it indoors in a pot, it is important to find a location that is as lit as possible, next to windows with a high incidence during at least 4 hours a day.
Climate-wise, this hardy plant can adapt to a wide variety of climates. In fact, it is one of the reasons for its rapid expansion throughout the world. Its only weak point in this aspect is very low temperatures, since does not support frost 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 it has time to grow and gain strength before the cold sets in.
Discover other plants and flowers perfect for very sunny gardens, here.
soil for rhododendron
If light is the most important point in rhododendron care, soil is second. It is an acidophilic plant, which prefers and needs a certain degree of soils with a low pH. It is necessary to provide an acidic soil, or expressly acidify it. We recommend always using ecological and natural methods for this, such as the use of vinegar or lemon juice, which do not harm the floor.
It is also vital that the soil or substrate of the rhododendron offer good drainage. The roots of the plant are sensitive to rotting due to waterlogging and excess moisture will attract pests and diseases that are very harmful to the plant.
For more information on acidophilic plants: what they are, examples and care, do not hesitate to read this EcologíaVerde article that we recommend.
In summer is better water more often and in little quantity to make sure not to flood. If you live in a very hot 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 quantity in the cold months.
It is also important do not irrigate with running water if it has a high content of lime, since this can make the soil alkaline and unsuitable for the development of the plant, causing iron chlorosis. If you see that your rhododendron shows yellowed 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 convenient that let the water rest with which you are going to water for 24 hours so that the lime is deposited, without rushing the bottom of the container.
If you want to know more about Chlorosis in plants: what it is and how to eliminate it, read this post that we suggest.
Fertilizer and other rhododendron care
It is recommended to add some organic fertilizer to the rhododendron during the warm months to strengthen its flowering. It will suffice to add worm humus 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 poor condition. Yes it is important to be watch out for pests, because the caterpillars are one of the greatest dangers for the rhododendron. Check the plant and remove any caterpillars you see, or use a homemade organic insecticide if it becomes necessary.
Do not hesitate to read these posts on How to make worm hummus or the Types of compost that exist in EcologíaVerde.
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