Rhododendrons are a group of evergreen shrubs grown for their year round foliage interest and showy spring bloom. There are thousands of varieties of Rhododendrons in the world, with species native from the Himalayas to the Pacific Northwest. Rhododendrons are extremely popular in this area because they really do flourish in our climate, and are very reliable performers in the landscape.
Color in Rhododendrons is wide-ranging, from white to pink to red, and some achieving a lemon yellow or orange color. The easiest way to find a color you like is to see one actually in bloom. Bloom colors can also vary slightly depending on location, health, weather, and other factors. The general color will remain the same though and usually color variances are only really noticeable in adverse conditions. Bloom time will vary slightly from year to year depending on weather. Early usually means February, and late will stretch into June.
Where to Plant
Contrary to a popular belief, Rhododendrons do not appreciate full, hot sun. Many plants have died or suffered greatly because of this, so please keep this in mind and give them a little shade in the afternoon. They won’t thrive in complete shade either, so try to find an area which gets morning sun and afternoon shade. High wind areas can be damaging, as dry winds can dry a Rhododendron’s leaves out quickly.
Soil is a big concern for Rhododendrons. Drainage is very important, as root rot is very apt to occur in waterlogged soils. This will kill the plant in a matter of months. The opposite side of the spectrum is dry soil, which will make a plant very unhealthy and could eventually cause death, especially in hot weather. Dry soil is usually worst closest to a house or under a large conifer. Rhododendrons prefer an acidic soil, which is usually pretty prevalent in this area, but may need work if your soil has been amended or replaced. Areas near concrete structures, like walkways, patios, and foundations can be hazardous because they gradually secrete lime which will raise the soil pH over time, harming rhododendrons.