Rhododendrons and Azaleas Hints and Tips

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If there are no frosts, this month is the peak time for rhododendrons and azaleas in the South of the country. In the north, they won't be at their best until June. As flowers die, pick them off by hand, to avoid damaging the shoots. New growth and next year's flower buds will be produced. Newly-planted bushes will need to be watered. Plants will benefit from a mulch of peat or leaf-mould.

Buy plants at Crocus.


Leaves which are spotty and yellow may have been affected by Japanese lacewing, whose larvae feeds on the underneath of the leaves. Pick these off or apply nematodes, watching for a recurrence as further lacewings hatch. Keep young plants watered in dry weather.


Continue to be vigilant for lacewing – see June – and act accordingly. Keep an eye out for suckers on grafted plants. The wild rhododendron stock can take over completely if left unchecked but even in bad cases if all the rogue growth is removed the grafted plant will survive.


If you are looking to plant more rhododendrons in the medium to long term future than you can begin the layering of shoots from existing plants now. Cut halfway through a suitable shoot and peg about six inches of the shoot including the cut into the ground firmly. This is not a short term project as it wl take two or maybe three years before the layer has generated enough root to be viable on its own.

Buy plants at Crocus.


Plants can be transplanted during wet weather. Newly bought plants should be planted out within a couple of weeks of purchase and should be kept well watered.


New plants can be planted this month in prepared ground. If any plants are not doing too well they will benefit from a good feed and an addition of well rotted manure and peat to the top few inches of soil.


Planting of rhododendrons and azaleas can still take place if the weather is fine. Japanese azaleas can be potted up and brought into the house for some winter colour. Once the plants have flowered, plant them out in the garden and they will carry on growing.

Buy plants at Crocus.


If the weather remains favourable planting can still take place. Blue tits tend to peck at the flower buds so it is worth hanging some old CDs up to deter them.


Provide a covering of leaf mould to rhododendrons and azaleas if heavy frost is forecast, although as you might forget it is worth doing this anyway.


Given favourable weather conditions you can now prepare the ground in readiness for planting new rhododendrons and azaleas next month. Deep dig the ground and add some manure or lime free compost and allow the ground to settle naturally.

Buy plants at Crocus.


Prepare the ground for planting, digging in plenty of manure or leaf-mould. Dig holes big enough to hold the root ball, keeping the depth the same as it was in the pot. Damp the roots if dry and fill in with peat or leaf-mould. If the weather is dry and growth has started, water the plants.


Complete the planting of any new bushes and transplant any that need moving. Newly-planted bushes will need watering if the weather is dry. Dead-head early flowering plants.

Gardening information, hints and tips on how to grow rhododendrons and azeleas in your garden including pest control, propagation and general care advice.