Rhododendron plants are native to the mountain landscape of North America. This evergreen member of the azalea family is a popular landscaping shrub due to its diverse cultivars, brilliant blossoms, which bloom from May to July in most climates, as well as its deep green foliage. However, rhododendrons are also a great plant for nature crafts. Because the plant has so much to offer in terms of color, texture and diversity, you'll find many ways to create enjoyable crafts for your home.
According to Clemson University Extension Service, rhododendron foliage can be used to make evergreen wreaths for the holiday season. Rhododendron is a great alternative to the traditional red cedar or holly wreaths, but still provides rich green foliage for a festive wreath craft. To make a simple rhododendron wreath, Clemson suggests incorporating rhododendron foliage with gold ribbon, evenly spaced ornaments and a large bow. Using greening pins, fill in your wreath form; be careful to cover the pins by overlapping the bundles of rhododendron. After filling the form wrap, the ribbon around the top 3/4 of the form. Leave enough space at the bottom for the bow. Evenly place approximately eight ornaments along the form. Clemson used small golden bells.
Surprisingly, most rhododendron varieties have a strong yet pleasant smell. Combining the leaves with dried blossoms makes an interesting and fragrant potpourri. Specifically The American Rhododendron Society, TAMS, recommends using R. wasonii, R. baulforianum or R. cinnabarium ssp. Xanthocodon for the best-smelling potpourri blends. To make rhododendron potpourri, dry both leaves and blooms. Bundle leaves and blooms separately and hang upside down to air dry. This process takes approximately two weeks. Once the rhododendron is dry, separate the leaves and blooms from the stems and arrange in decorative bowls. Store potpourri in an air-tight container to keep it smelling fresh as well as to prevent further drying of the rhododendron. To refresh the scent, drop a few drops of essential oil onto the potpourri and mix.
Fresh Flower Arrangement
Rhododendron is a great medium for fresh flower arrangements because the plant offers so many different colors, textures and proportions. TAMS's journal suggests cutting rhododendron blossoms early in the morning or after the sun goes down to ensure the freshest blooms. In addition they assert that the blossoms should be left to soak in fresh cool water for 12 hours prior to making the arrangement. To make a rhododendron arrangement that truly showcases the plant, incorporate woody branches as well as blooms and foliage into your arrangement.