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i m new to the Rhodies, i don't have any yet but have a spot on the side of my yard that i would like to plant some if i have the right conditions,
Early mornig sun and afternoon shade.
could i get some helpful hints ? on the care and maintanence of these beautiful flowers.
Morning sun and afternoon shade sound ideal! In zone 5 I start with Catawbiense selections (the 'Iron-clad' rhododendrons, PJM selections (small flowers but early) and the 'Yak' hybrids (short, large flowers in pink or white and silvery-fuzzy leaves when they first emerge...beautiful!). All of these are perfectly suited to zone 5.
The soil must be acidic so add plenty of peat, leaf mould (if you an find it) and some sand to increase drainage (rhodies need a moist soil but hate soggy, wet roots). I fertilize mine with a rhody food that contains a soil acidifier but they don't need too much in the big scheme. Our local botanical garden never fertilizes their rhodies and they are just stunning! If you think your soil is not acid enough you can use a soil acidifier. Don't use aluminium sulfate to acidify the soil as it is toxic to rhodies. Iron or Ferrous sulphate is OK.
Make sure you plant them at the same depth as they were in their pots...planting them too deep can lead to root rot. You can add a mulch around the ground under the plants to protect the uppermost roots. Peat-leaf mould is an ideal mulch.
If you get any amount of snow, then wrap them in winter but build a box and cover it in burlap; don't wrap the plants directly.
Hope that helps. There are lots of good book out there on rhodies.
Lepidote (scale on bottom of leaves) usually small leaves
Elepidote (no scales) usually very large leaves. Usually huge trusses of flowers.
Maddenia not hardy, but hybrids with Lepidotes can be.
Vireya not hardy
Rooted cuttings and yearlings: http://www.vanveennursery.com/
Deciduous Azaleas are difficult to root. not may nurseries carry them. Also most nurseries are too wet. The colors can be striking. Many bloom before they have leaves.
Your best bet would be to check with the Garden Watchdog. There are approximately 100 companies that sell Rhodies and Azalea's by mail, and at least some of them have gotten very good feedbacks. That is the way I search out specialists in the plants I am looking for. Best of luck. Rhodies are beautiful. Dotti