My Rhododendrons hope the worst of the snow has now passed and that there will be nothing to break the young flowering shoots. The buds are swelling nicely and the rain and sun from last year should bring forth a good crop ofÂ ‘blousy’ flowers.
- With the ground still wet I have mulched around the plants to preserve moisture. I used a mix of peat and coarse river sand to help maintain the acidic ph. The sand will keep the soil open and allow more rain and fertiliser to reach the roots. A better mix might have been beech and Oak leaf mould but I had none to hand so I will check that the peat doesn’t make a compacted crust.
- As Rhododendrons are shallow rooted I have not mulched too thickly but enough to stop weeds.
- Dwarf rhododendrons are generally clothed to the ground and little can grow under their canopy. It helps shade the roots and dead leaves create a natural mulch.
- Good clean husbandry helps to show off the smaller Rhododendron varieties to best effect.
- In a gap I have planted a yellow dwarf Rhododendron ‘Princes Anne’ grown in a pot at a local nursery.
- Some weed seedlings have taken a fancy to the friable compost in the Rhododendron bed so I have pulled them out by hand before they can take a firm hold.
- As soon as the flower buds have finished I will snap off the old flower heads to leave room for two new leaves or stems to grow from the buds. Take care not to damage or snap off the buds as well as the dead flowers. For some of the really small but multitudinous flowering varieties I will not have the time or patience to deadhead them all but I will try.
- Two plants looked a bit yellow of leaf, usually a sign that the soil is too alkaline for the Rhododendron to take up nutrients from the soil. I had some ericaceous granular fertiliser for acid loving plants and I gave the a dose of that around the root area. The contents were NPK 16:3:13 with magnesium and trace elements.
- The snow and winter damaged shoots that had broken off have been collected along with any fallen leaves and composted.
- I am happy to prune out dead branches but not to prune good wood that damages the shape of the shrub.
- If you have a leggy, drawn plant it may be possible to plant it on its side and layer the branches to get new better shaped secimens.