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Rhododendron culture Family ericaciae Genus rhododendron Sub genus Lepidotes - with scales (including vireyas) Elepidotes - without scales Azaleas - deciduous and evergreen What Rhododendrons need: Constant supply of water Must have good drainage – never in stagnant water Medium acid soil pH 5-6, with soil coarse enough to provide roots with oxygen. If you understand these three conditions you can succeed to grow rhododendrons wherever you live.  Rhododendrons are a most generous flower providing the few imortant rules are followed. Position – they prefer filtered sunlight but they will not shun an open position provided it is reasonably sheltered Good drainage – the roots lie close to the surface and they greatly benefit from porous soil and moisture retaining mulch, particularly in summer Soil – they are acid loving plants and prefer a pH range of 5-6.  They can be grown in alkaline soil but it takes more work.  Plant, if you can, in compost rich soil Water – rhododendrons require more frequent watering in the first year of planting and until they are established.  The roots will need to get into the surrounding soil.  They can dry out and stay dry even if the immediate area looks moist.  Watch for signs of drooping leaves and flowers, they will tell you that your plants are unhappy.  An immediate and slow running hose over several hours is usually the solution.  Be particularly careful with r. yakushimanum where death sneaks up on you.  When the leaves droop its probably already dead.  Make sure you are not deceived by overcast and windy but relatively dry periods especially in winter. Fertiliser – rhododendrons are not heavy feeders.  If they are flowering well and producing healthy new growth each year, don't bother.  If they are looking a bit sad or yellow and are not in too much shade, too little shelter, dried out or drowning, then you need to fertilise with one application of complete acid fertiliser.  But if they are suffering the indignities aforementioned, attend to them beforehand. Deadheading – wherever possible deadheading greatly enhances flowering.  It also keeps the plant tidy, well ventilated and discourages pests.  It's a good time to remove small dead branches.  Diligent deadheading will keep your shrub healthy and you will profit by at least 20% more flowers the following year. .  
Over the years Shirley and I have enjoyed the friendship, company and help of many present and past members of the Wellington Rhododendron Group.  Fine people all !  We have indeed been favoured by their companionship right from when we joined as founding members.  You have enhanced and expanded our lives.  Thank you all.

Rhododendron Culture

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