How to Grow Wild Rhododendron


The wild rhododendron tends to be larger than its nursery counterparts, growing as tall as 35 feet and up to 18 feet wide. Its grandiose flowers can be rose, lavender, pink or white, and its evergreen leaves are dark blue-green. You can spot wild rhododendron on mountain slopes, peeking out from stream banks and brightening woods and northern swamps. Use your wild rhododendron to line a shady driveway or to add color to a wooded glen behind your home.

Step 1

Plant your wild rhododendron in a shady area with acidic soil ranging between 5.2 and 6.2, according to A soil that is too alkaline will stunt or kill your plant.

Step 2

Water weekly during your rhododendron's "establishment period," according to the University of Maine Extension. That period is equal to one year for each inch of your plant's trunk diameter. After that, you need only water during a severe drought.

Step 3

Fertilize your shrub only if a test indicates your soil's pH is not in the correct range. Amend your soil by adding sulfur. Do not add nitrogen fertilizer at planting or during the first growing season, according to the University of Maine Extension.

Step 4

Place mulch 2 to 4 inches deep around your shrub out to its dripline. Use pine needles or pine bark, which will increase the soil's acidity. Keep the mulch away from the shrub's trunk.

Things You'll Need

  • Fertilizer for acidic plants
  • Pine bark or pine needles


  • University of Maine Extension
  • Rosebay: Soil Acidity and Rhododendrons
Keywords: wild rhododendron, rhododendron, caring for wild rhododendron

About this Author

Aileen Clarkson has been an award-winning editor and reporter for more than 20 years. Clarkson graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She has worked for several newspapers, including "The Washington Post" and "The Charlotte Observer."