Rhododendrons don't have to be challenging.
Rhododendrons: Understanding Their Needs and Care
Rhododendrons, our state flower, are easy to grow in the Pacific Northwest.
When we think of rhododendrons, we usually have an image of lush foliage and large
bunches of striking and brilliant flowers. Rhododendrons can be easy to grow if you
understand their basic needs.
Basic Needs and Care of Rhododendrons:
1) Need a constant supply of water in cold winters and hot summers. (Without competition from large trees)
2) Need well drained soil. (Slow draining or high water tables will kill them)
3) Need good aeration for the roots. (Add a good mulch to the soil to provide aeration)
4) Appropriate light (Usually the larger the leaf the more shade the plant will tolerate, conversely the smaller the leaf the more sun the plant will tolerate)
5) An acidic soil with a pH of about 5.5.
6) Fertilizers are usually not needed unless you are using wood chip mulch which may require the addition of nitrogen to offset its use in the decomposition process.
7) Pruning of dead wood and Dead-Heading (Removal of withered flowers)
The reputation of rhododendrons being finicky, frustrating plants is misleading,
Providing their basic needs of planting in a favorable location and providing proper
growing conditions will make these plants easy, care free and long-lived.