While they have a ubiquity that can make you take these spring flowering shrubs for granted, there are at least three reasons why you need to plant (or plant more) rhodies:
- Astonishing spring flowers that come in a range of sumptuous colors and seem to appear from out of nowhere after a long, cold winter. Quite the pick-me-up in the window after witch hazel shrubs flowers but before the lilacs bloom.
- Speaking of winter, they’re one of the few shrubs that stay reliably evergreen during the worst of the season. And, they’re elegant when paired with that other winter stalwart, conifers.
- They grow best in the light shade including the north side of the house (not the easiest place for plants), and thrive in acid soils, even under high-canopied conifers.
Most are hardy in zones 5 – 8, though there are a few that can take more chill and others that can take a bit more heat. Many are compact in habit and fill the voids around foundations and in front of taller shade-lovers, but if you need height, some can get large. Choose carefully now to avoid unnecessary pruning for size later. Planted now they’ll bring on a bit of bloom, but next spring, get out of the way. They’ll be cloaked in festive color.
If you need recommendations for a certain spot, use the comments section below.
What: Vigorous-growing with large trusses of rose-lilac flowers. Zone: 4 – 8
When: Late spring
Best Feature: Moderate-size is ideal for narrow side yards or against fences.
Keeping Rhodie Happy
- Provide well-drained, acidic soil, rich in organic matter.
- Avoid harsh sun and wind.
- Mulch to keep roots cool.
- Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system.
- Feed with an acid fertilizer after bloom.
- Pruning time: spring after flowering.