The Mighty Rhododendron
The genus Rhododendron encompasses both rhododendrons and azaleas, but unlike most azaleas, most rhododendrons have the advantage of being evergreen, which means their lush leaves have great value in a winter landscape. In early spring, rhododendrons explode with vibrant blooms in a host of colors. Ensure this rite of spring by planting your garden with rhododendrons in the early spring or early fall.
Hardy and shade-loving, this hybrid loves cooler regions, thriving as far as Zone 4. Its bright red, showy flowers make it a great choice for a short hedge.
Planting tip: Keep these evergreen leaves colorful. Adding Epsom salts to the soil brings dull leaves back to their natural hue.
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Rhododendron 'Blue Peter'
A sun-tolerant variety, 'Blue Peter' has elegant, frilly lavender flowers that appear mid-spring. The hybrid shrub grows to a height of about four feet.
Planting tip: When choosing a location, go for good drainage and slightly acidic soil; add sulfur if a soil test proves the area to be basic.
Rhododendron ‘Boule de Neige’
“Ball of Snow” in English, this deep-shade-loving variety sports big balls of white flowers in spring.
Planting tip: Watch out for any standing water—it will pretty much guarantee the demise of your shrub.
Rhododendron ‘Bow Bells’
Named for its pink, bell-shaped blooms, this hybrid is also known for its rounded foliage, which is bronze-colored when young but matures to deep green.
Planting tip: If planting in poor soil, dig a wider hole and plant the root ball in a blend of original soil and compost.
This evergreen features unusual lush yellow blooms that combine nicely with its glossy green leaves.
Planting tip: Rhododendrons love shade and can take no more than four hours of direct sunlight per day, which means they can sit tucked into trees, so long as the trees lack surface roots.
Rhododendron ‘White Angel’
This semi-evergreen blooms in abundance from mid-April and can grow to be six feet tall. The long-lasting, showy white flowers open in deep or partial shade.
Planting tip: After your plant has finished its blooms for the season, prune it back to keep it looking vibrant.
Rhododendron 'Nova Zembla'
Reaching up to eight feet, 'Nova' brings a cluster of crimson blooms to a shady corner in your yard—try it as a hedge.
Planting tip: Plant in a hole twice as wide and only as deep as the root ball; with their shallow roots, rhododendrons don’t do well deeply buried.
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Rhododendron ‘Black Satin’
The deep pink flowers of early spring give way to dark purple-black foliage in winter, bringing dynamic interest to your garden.
Planting tip: Rhododendrons thrive against buildings and slopes. Choose a location where your plants will be protected from drying south or west winds.
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