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Rhododendron planting and growing


Rhododendrons are broad-leaved evergreen shrubs that are admirably adapted to producing strong planting effects. Some of them are hardy in the Northern states.

Rhododendrons require a fibrous or peaty soil and protection from bleak winds and bright suns in summer and winter. A northern or somewhat shady exposure, to break the force of the midday sun, is advisable; but they should not be planted where large trees will sap the fertility and moisture from the ground. They protect each other if grown in masses, and also produce better planting effects.

They require a deep, fibrous earth, and it is supposed that they do not thrive in limestone soils or where wood ashes are freely used.

While rhododendrons will sometimes succeed without any special preparation of the ground, it is advisable to take particular pains in this regard. It is well to dig a hole 2 or 3 feet deep, and fill it with earth compounded of leafmold, well-rotted sod, and peat. The moisture supply should be never failing, for they suffer from drought. They should be mulched summer and winter. Plant in spring.

The hardy garden forms are derivatives of Rhododendron Catawbiense, of the southern Appalachian Mountains. The Pontica and other forms are not hardy in the North.

The "great laurel" of the northern United States is Rhododendron maximum. This has been extensively colonized in large grounds by being removed from the wild in carload lots. When the native conditions are imitated, it makes unusually good mass planting. Like all rhododendrons it is impatient of drought, hard soil, and full exposure to midday sun.

This species is valued for its foliage and habit more than for its bloom. The wild form of R. Catawbiense is also transferred to grounds in large quantities.