April Grow Your Own


‘Big blooms for small spaces’ with dwarf rhododendron

Rhododendron webDo you love the idea of bringing colour to your garden this spring? Have you got guests coming or simply want to achieve some instant impact for the family to enjoy? The answer is easy! Get into rhododendrons!

Spring is the time when garden centres and nurseries all over the country are putting on shows of fabulous rhododendrons in bud and coming into flower. For plant buffs or novices, get out gardening (and shopping!) this spring and enjoy this really wonderful family of plants.

Let’s start with the dwarf varieties. Perfect for pots and containers, these will flower year after year with only a small amount of basic attention. If your soil is acidic, either dwarf or bigger shrubs will thrive in the ground. To find out, get a testing kit from the garden centre, ask neighbours or simply look at the kind of garden plants that seem to do well in the locality – magnolia, pieris or heathers are indicators of an acid soil. Many rhodos are evergreens and these offer the added benefit of green foliage through winter.

Potted dwarf rhodos are perfect for people who have to move house frequently, as well as making an impressive gift – unlike a bouquet of flowers, they last for years! They’re also great if your outside space is restricted to a patio or even a doorstep.

They’re a great way into gardening – looking after them is easy, but removing the dead blooms after flowering, a little bit of pruning plus feeding and adding compost early in spring will give a sense of fulfilment and help to build confidence. For the dedicated gardener, the world of rhodos is absorbing and rewarding.

If you’re making a shopping list, some possibilities to include might be ‘Blue Tit’. This bears grey-blue flowers and makes a great choice for a rock garden. Another attractive choice is Baden-Baden, with its cherry-red flowers. Each of these are compact evergreens and won’t exceed 1-1.5m in height and spread. For exceptionally free-flowering varieties, go for ‘Scarlet Wonder’, which bears bright red flowers in mid-spring and reaches 1.2-2m in height and spread. ‘Shamrock’ is a little star at only 75cm fully grown. It’s very hardy, tolerates sun and drought and bears pale yellow flowers in profusion in early to mid-spring. ‘Moerheim’ is even smaller at only 60cm. Flowers are violet-blue and profuse in mid-spring. Another very hardy little shrub, it is happiest in full-sun.

If you’re buying plants that aren’t already potted, make sure you pick up ericaceous compost (for acid-loving plants), put stones or broken crocks in the bottom of the pots to aid drainage and water regularly until plants are established.

If you thought it was too late to enjoy a fabulous flower-filled garden or patio this spring, then check out the options from rhodos and prepare to be surprised.

Material courtesy of www.the-hta.org.uk