How to Care for Rhododendron


Rhododendrons are evergreen perennial shrubs. Desirable for their large, showy clusters of flowers, these beautiful plants come in a wide variety of sizes and colors. There are over 700 species of rhododendrons, with many more cultivars. Not only are there many to choose from, but all are hardy plants and easy to grow, making this the perfect plant for almost any home gardener.

Step 1

Choose a location for your rhododendron that is partially shaded, if you live in a hot climate. These plants grow very well in partial shade or even full sun in colder climates, but in full shade they will not bloom as well.

Step 2

Protect your rhododendrons from the wind. These shrubs do not fare well in windy conditions. Plant them on the east or north side of a house for wind protection and to protect from the sometimes too-hot rays of the afternoon sun.

Step 3

Provide soil that is rich in organic materials for your shrub, and make sure that soil is well-draining. Rhododendrons have shallow roots which will easily rot if left in standing water for too long.

Step 4

Water enough so that the soil is continually cool and slightly moist. Although these plants cannot tolerate standing water, they also cannot handle drought conditions and ample water should be given all summer long, especially if they are planted under a tree or other overhang. Add a 2- or 3-inch layer of mulch to preserve moisture.

Step 5

Fertilize with an acidic fertilizer after the bush flowers in the spring. Follow the directions on the label according to the age and size of your rhododendron. Avoid using lime or anything that will add alkaline to the soil, as these shrubs do not do well in alkaline soils.

Step 6

Dead-head the shrub (remove spent flower clusters) in the fall. This will "clean up" the plant and encourage re-blooming next year. Pruning is not necessary; simply pluck off the flowers.

Things You'll Need

  • Watering tools
  • Mulch
  • Acidic fertilizer


  • Oregon State University: Azalea and Rhododendron Care
  • "Emmitsburg News-Journal: The Master Gardeners: Caring for Rhododendrons

Who Can Help

  • American Rhododendron Society
  • National Arboretum: USDA Hardiness Zones Map
Keywords: caring for rhododendrons, growing rhododendrons, azaleas and rhododendrons

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.