The rhododendron is a shrub that can be kept both in pots and in the garden. It’s one of those plants that tolerates pruning quite well, from which it recovers without difficulty, so it’s easy to control its growth and even work it into a bushy or treelike look if that’s what interests us.
Its flowers have a great ornamental value; their colors contrast with the green of their leaves, and they also remain open for several days. But you should also know that it can be very demanding when grown in a climate that is not the most suitable for it. That’s why we want you to know what is rhododendron care; this way you can have it beautiful.
Potted Rhododendron Care
You don’t have a garden? Want to have it on the patio? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you will be interested in how to care for potted rhododendrons. Let’s see what they are:
Plastic or clay pot?
As you probably know, there are several types of pots. For the plant we are going to cultivate, we recommend that you choose a plastic or a clay. The first has the advantage of being lighter, cheaper and more durable if it is of good quality; the second, on the other hand, is heavier, so it is more difficult for the wind to carry it, but it is also more expensive.
In all cases, it should be planted in one that has holes in its base. It should not be put in the one that does not have it, because it does not tolerate excess water.
soil or substrate
Rhododendron is an acid plant. It is very important to know because if grown in soil with a pH of 7 or more, it will have ferric chlorosis due to lack of iron. And it is that a soil can contain this mineral, but the higher the pH, the less it will be accessible to the roots, since it is blocked.
Therefore, if you are going to have it in a jar, you must fill it with one of these substrates:
- Substrate for acidic plants, like Flower for example (you can buy it here)
- coconut fiber
- Either with the following mixture: 70% akadama + 30% kanuma
Since it is an acidic plant, it would be useless to have it in suitable soil if we water it with water with a pH of 7 or more (ie alkaline), because the water would raise the pH of the soil. For this reason, it is important to water with rainwater whenever possible, or failing that with water fit for human consumption. If our tap water has a very high pH, we can acidify it if we add a few drops of lemon or vinegar.
But when should you water the rhododendron? It will depend on the weather conditions, but if it’s not raining, it is advisable to hydrate it every 3 days in summer, and every 6-7 days the rest of the year.
As it is potted, we recommend fertilizing it with specific fertilizers for acid plants, like this one from Fertiberia, or with natural fertilizers like guano as long as they are liquid. Likewise, the instructions for use should be followed, as this will result in a healthy rhododendron.
Rhododendron has a slow growth rate, but it is important that we remember to plant it in a larger (it should be about 5 to 7 centimeters wide and taller than the one it has) when the roots come out of the drainage holes, or when it has been there for more than 3 or 4 years. This will be done in late winter or early spring, before flowering.
Pruning will be done in autumn so as not to run the risk of not producing flowers that year. It will consist of:
- Remove dead branches
- Cut a little those who have grown too much
- Give it an oval and compact shape
Care for rhododendrons in the garden
Rhododendron is a great garden plant, but only if it meets the conditions it needs to be successful. In fact, in places like the Mediterranean region, it is a very demanding species, since the soil is generally clayey and therefore has a pH of 7 or more, and the irrigation water is also generally alkaline, so it is necessary use bottled water or acidify it with lemon or vinegar.
Therefore, if we want to have it in the garden, we must know that:
- The soil must be acidicwith a pH between 4 and 6.
- The emptying must be fast; that is, it must be soil that does not easily become waterlogged, and that when it rains or is irrigated, water is absorbed quickly.
- The weather must be temperate, with mild summers and cold winters. It resists frosts down to -18°C, but temperatures above 30°C do not suit it, as they slow down its growth.
And that said, let’s see what care we have to give him if he’s going to be in the garden:
Rhododendron is a plant that it should be placed in an area where there is plenty of light, but without direct sunlight or, at least, during the central hours of the day. If the place where you live in the summers is very hot, with temperatures of 30 ºC or more and there are tropical nights (with minimum temperatures of 20 ºC), you must put it in the shade.
our protagonist grows in acidic or slightly acidic, light and well-drained soils. When the one in the garden is not like this, you must make a planting hole of at least 1 x 1 meter, cover its sides, except the bottom, with shade mesh, and fill it with soil for acid plants or of coconut fiber.
Irrigation will be done with rainwater or clean drinking water. If it is irrigated with alkaline water, that is, with a pH of 7 or more, the plant will not survive. Besides, You should know that you have to water it more or less 3 times a week during the summer, and a little less the rest of the year.
If we have it in the garden, It is recommended to fertilize it with organic powder or granular fertilizers in spring and summer.. For example, with chicken manure or guano. You should add a handful or two – depending on the size of the plant – once every 15 or 30 days.
Pruning is not necessary unless we are interested in forming it like a tree or a small tree. In this case, it should be borne in mind that it is in fact a bush, and that it develops several stems. We can choose one of these stems and eliminate the rest, or leave them but prune the branches so that they end up being an oval or even irregular cut.
Pruning will be done in autumn, after flowering, with previously disinfected pruning tools. Here is more information:
How is the pruning of the rhododendron?
With these tips, we hope you can have a very beautiful rhododendron.