Rhododendrons (Latin Rhododendron) are a genus of plants of the Heather family. The most widespread in Japan, China, Southeast Asia. Rhododendrons also grow in the North Caucasus, Siberia, the Far East and Ukraine.
Rhododendrons are shrubs with a height of 1m to 30m. There are creeping rhododendron bushes. In culture, rhododendron (translated from the Greek "rose tree") live up to 50 years, in natural conditions - up to 100 years. The plant is a good early spring honey plant.
You can buy rhododendron in specialized stores.
Rhododendron in the garden. Rhododendron (stress on the 3rd syllable) grows well in light partial shade, protected from the direct midday sun. Rhododendrons are planted mainly in groups, for example, undersized species along paths or in compositions - taller species in the center, undersized along the edges. Single plantings of bright colors of rhododendron against the background of conifers also look impressive: spruce, thuja, pines, junipers.
Rhododendron, garden azalea - popular varieties:
Planting a rhododendron. Rhododendrons have a shallow root system, so it is undesirable to plant them near trees, the roots of which also grow in the upper ball of the soil.
It is better to choose a place for rhododendrons that is slightly shaded, the open bright sun dries the soil, the moisture of which is of great importance for the normal development and flowering of these beautiful plants.
Before planting, it is advisable to prepare the soil, add peat, leaf humus to it. On top you need to pour mulch: sawdust, chopped bark, shavings, needles. Mulch is necessary to protect the root system of the rhododendron from drought in summer and frost in winter. Mulching also significantly reduces the amount of weeds.
The best time to plant a rhododendron is spring, although planting in the fall is possible (but not late). The root collar (the place where the roots go into the trunk) should not be buried in the ground, but protrude slightly above the surface, taking into account further shrinkage. Immediately after planting, the bushes of the garden azalea should be watered abundantly. There will be a slight subsidence of the soil, which is then poured.
Top dressing. Top dressing of young rhododendron plants consists in introducing a mullein solution in the spring (1 to 15) and after flowering with a mixture of 1 part of phosphorus and 2 parts of potassium fertilizers. Adult plants are fed with long-acting fertilizers, which are applied in early spring.
Fertilizers are best applied not in the middle of the bush, but at a distance of 20 cm from it.
Fertilizers containing chlorine and lime are not suitable for rhododendrons.
Trimming and shaping. Typically, formative pruning of rhododendron is carried out immediately after flowering. An old overgrown plant is pruned, which interferes with other bushes. However, it is not recommended to prune young rhododendrons, as pruning delays flowering, to the extent that the plant may not bloom next year.
IMPORTANT: Pruning with gloves, rhododendron leaves are poisonous.
Blooming rhododendrons. Rhododendrons bloom from late May to late June, sometimes until late July. In young plants that are less than 1 year old, it is recommended to remove all the buds so that the plant grows stronger and gives a more lush flowering next year.
Reproduction. Rhododendrons are usually propagated by seed, grafting, cuttings, and shrub division. Let's consider the last two methods.
In the second half of June - the first half of July, slightly lignified cuttings 6-8 cm long are cut. 2-3 upper leaves are left on the cuttings, treated with a growth stimulant and planted at an angle of 30-45 ° into a mixture of peat and sand. To preserve moisture, the cuttings are watered and covered with a film or a transparent container. Rooting time: from 1.5 months (deciduous varieties) to 4.5 months (evergreen varieties). Then the cuttings are grown in containers filled with a substrate consisting of 2 parts of sour peat and 1 part of pine needles at a temperature of 8-12 ° C. A year later, rooted and grown-up cuttings are planted in the garden.
Reproduction by dividing the bushes is carried out in the spring before the start of growth. It is necessary that parts of the bushes have a developed root system and at least 2 shoots.
Wintering of rhododendron. Before winter starts, you need to water the bushes abundantly until the soil is frozen. In the first 2-3 years after planting, the rhododendron should be covered with spruce branches (evergreen varieties), an oak leaf (undersized varieties), and the branches should be bent to the ground so that they winter under the snow (deciduous varieties).
Diseases and pests. The most common pest of rhododendron bushes is the Otiorhynchus sulcatus bug. Against this pest, drugs are used that are used against the Colorado potato beetle. Usually the bug attacks at the end of May.
ATTENTION AGAIN: Rhododendron is a beautiful but poisonous plant. Wear gloves when transplanting, planting and propagating a plant.
PHOTO OF AZALIA