Rhododendron Care
Planting Instructions
Proper planting is essential for rhododendrons. They are easy to
grow if given the correct conditions. Here are some guidelines to

Rhododendrons demand good drainage and plenty of organic
matter in the soil. That rules out planting in clay soil. To test
your soil for drainage simply dig a small hole and fill with water.
If the water does not disappear in a few minutes, you have poor
drainage. The pH must be acidic, between 5.0 and 6.0.
To improve heavy soil, loosen the existing soil by digging an area 30" wide
and 6" deep. Add the following: 1 bushel sphagnum peat moss, 1 bushel
well-shredded pine bark or well-ground leaf mulch and 1 cup Iron Sulfate.
Mix thoroughly. Plant the rhododendron in the center of the mixture,
taking care to plant it at the same level it was in the pot. Do not plant it
deeper! Mulch with shredded bark. Take care not to mound the mulch
against the plant.

If your soil is sandy, add 1 bushel sphagnum peat moss. Mix thoroughly
with existing soil.

Consider exposure to wind and sun when selecting a site (especially if you
are located right on Lake Michigan). The ideal spot for rhododendrons is
in the shelter of mature evergreens, protected from the winter sun and
wind. The worst situation for a rhododendron would be a west exposure in
full sun.

When watering rhododendrons, soak the root ball thoroughly each time. A
soaking once per week in cool weather and twice a week in very hot
weather is all they need. Little dribbles of water each day is not beneficial
and may even cause plant health problems.

Fertilizing once in the spring with fertilizer for acid-loving plants is all that
is necessary for optimum growth. We like to use Espoma Holly-Tone.
Apply as per package instructions.

As an added protection for the winter, spray a latex antidessicant on the
foliage in November when the temperature is around 40 degrees. This will
help the rhododendron retain moisture and reduce leafburn.