Our Rhododendrons are right at home in this hot and humid place we call the South. That’s right; these blooms are heat tolerant. Some would say that makes them truly Southern at heart. They certainly have my heart with their stunning early spring blooms, arriving just when we can’t bear any more winter.
Southgate® Rhododendron shrubs love to be planted in partial sun and shade. The best part about these zone 6 plants for shade is that they bloom the first year, and they are also cold tolerant and evergreen meaning they have foliage interest all year long. If you find them in your garden center in early spring, they will be loaded with buds, just waiting to burst into bloom and bright the shady spots in your landscape.
We took our Rhododendrons and planted them in a location that is exposed to morning sun and afternoon shade. These dwarf shrubs work well as foundation plantings and are beautiful in woodland garden settings like this one.
For best results, plant in soil with a PH of 5.5. Don’t know your soil type? Conduct a soil PH test; you can do it!
How to plant spring Rhododendron beds:
Position your plants in the shape of an arc. We like using a water hose as a quick template; just drape and rearrange until you are pleased with the shape and line of your planting.
Dig a hole twice the size of the rhododendron root ball. Then, mix some of your soil and bark mixture, or soil conditioner or compost, at the bottom of the hole.
Remove the pot from the container and gently loosen the roots. Plant the root ball two inches above the ground.
Backfill in your hole with extra soil and bark mixture.
Make sure the soil does not cover the stem top of the root ball of the rhododendron plant.
Top dress with several inches of pine straw or mulch.
This project may seem like a lot of work, but I assure you this flowering shrub is worth the effort. Shade tolerant rhododendrons make great additions to your part to full shade gardens. As soon as the blooms start filling your garden you can clip, snip and bring them inside. If this is your first “Rhod-e-O” with shade plants, I guarantee it won’t be your last!