Introduction to Rhododendrons
The genus Rhododendron includes
nearly 1,000 species and countless numbers of cultivars (cultivated
While azaleas are now included in the genus Rhododendron, there are
some general differences between azaleas and rhododendrons. The
most notable difference is that most rhododendrons are evergreen
while most azaleas are deciduous (leaves fall off in winter). While
indigenous to many nations, Rhododendrons are most common in China,
Japan, and the eastern and northwestern United States.
flowering shrubs in Pennsylvania command the same attention and
respect as Rhododendrons. These evergreens are well known for their
large pom-pom shaped flowers that appear in rich purple, red, pink
and white colors. The blooms are further highlighted by a background of large evergreen leaves.
When Rhododendrons are sited correctly - eastern or northern
exposures away from harsh winter winds - they will perform
magnificently. The huge purple Rhododendron in the photo below gives
ample proof of how well they thrive in the right location.
Gardeners who desire to grow healthy Rhododendrons should also pay
close attention to finding a spot in the garden with good drainage
and acidic soil.
Rhododendron trimming should be done within 30 days of when
blossoms fade, so the flower buds for next year's
flower show aren't inadvertently removed. Some gardeners also like to "dead head" spent blossoms
that have become seed heads, but care must be given not to
damage new growth.
Send your Rhododendrons into winter with adequate moisture in their
root zones to counter the drying affects of winter winds on
evergreen foliage. In exposed areas of the landscape, plants can be
protected with burlap 'shields' attached to stakes - like fencing.
An alternative winter defense is applying an anti-desiccant to the