Rhododendrons are a stand-out shrub that is appreciated for its big, colorful springtime blooms, and for the shiny evergreen foliage that provides color on dull, drab winter days. Rhodies aren't difficult to grow, and as long as a few basic needs are met, your rhodies will continue to beautify the landscape and bring you pleasure for many years. Although rhodies are fairly sturdy shrubs, a bit of extra tender loving care each autumn will ensure that your rhodie is protected from cold winter weather and will be ready to bloom at its best in April and May.
Stop fertilizing rhodies after the end of July. Fertilizing after that time will create new growth that will make the rhodie more susceptible to cold winter weather.
Water the rhodie sparingly in late summer and fall so the wood has time to harden enough to withstand freezing weather. Don't let the soil dry out completely, and be sure to water the rhodie if the fall weather is hot and dry.
Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch around the base of the rhodie in fall, to protect the roots and retain moisture. Pine needles, bark chips or chopped leaves work well. Leave a few inches between the trunk of the rhodie and the mulch. Damp mulch can invite pests, diseases and mold.
Replenish the mulch when the weather warms up in spring. Mulch will control weeds, retain moisture and enrich the soil.