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I live in zone 7/8 in Texas (central Texas) and have an area near some trees that would be considered slightly shady and is also an area that stays fairly damp long after a rain. I would like to plant some large rhodendrons and wonder if there are any that grow in Texas or if there are some very large azaleas that would work? Any suggestions.
Hi Ken, your a person after my own heart regarding Rhododendrons and Azalea's, Camella's and even my beautiful Magnolia's, however I am sure you already know, but I remind you that Both your choice of shrubs / trees require Acidic soil, so I would do a test from your soil type to find out what type of soil you have, all these plants are expensive and depending on size of pot, they can cost anything up to $100's dollars so you do need to know a) you have the right growing conditions and b) you have the cooler / shaded areas these plant require.
I'm not sure IF there are lots of these plants that grow in the temp's in Texas but hope someone from that area can help you out further, If it is OK to grow these plants then I would send off for Cataloger's etc from companies that grow then and have done so in your zone.because as I have already mentioned, the cost can be the deciding factor.
I grow many of these plants as On the West coast where I live, I have the rainfall, acid soil, and believe me once you get your first half dozen plants of those, your already then hooked, even foliage is wonderful.
Good luck Ken, hope your wishes come true.
I should think azaleas would do very well in your area. Ive always been told that Rhododendrons require cooler weather than we usually have in the South but Ive never tried it either. Azaleas are sooooo beautiful and there are some large ones I think you can use. I acidify soil with leaf mold, pine straw and Ironite and I always use the special food for Roses, azaleas and camellias that acidifies as well. The nurseries put azaleas on sale when it starts to get really hot so you can get them at a good price if you have a shady place to keep them until fall planting time. Ive never had success trying to plant in summer, even if they are purchased in pots, (which is supposed to not matter when you plant.) I used to live in North Louisiana where I could grow them easily. It is hard to get them established here in Houston but once established, they do fine. Drought is their number one enemy. I lost 3 of mine last year due to heat and drought.
I've tried rhododendrons twice over here and both times they slowly died when our weather turned hot and humid. Looks like they were telling me loud and clear that they don't like our climate (I did plant them in morning sun, afternoon shade). On the other hand, I have several beautiful azaleas that I've had for several years and they are very healthy.