Plant of the Month: March
Rhododendrons and Azaleas
Our Plants of the Month are the rhododendron and azalea. Healthy rhododendrons have loads of colour, supported with lush green hardy foliage. There are shades to match all tastes and they look stunning in containers. Azaleas work well in every garden style from minimal to oriental or traditional.
Ericaceous shrubs such as the rhododendron and azalea are at their best from April to June, so plant now and watch them come into their own. Their shades range from dark red and purple through to cream and white. In a sheltered spot they need very little care. Originally from woodland, they prefer shady positions, although some can tolerate sunshine – ask for advice in the garden centre if you’re unsure.
Planting companions include the hydrangea, magnolia, acer and flowering cherry, but they like space to grow, so don’t crowd them with other plants. They look good planted in front of larger shrubs, which will also provide them with the shade that they prefer.
If you don’t have acid soil, plant them with generous amounts of ericaceous compost because both the rhodo and azalea are acid-loving plants. They thrive in moist, well drained ericaceous soil. The roots are close to the surface, so add a generous mulch of chipped bark around the base. As mentioned, they work well in containers, especially as you can fill the pot with ericaceous soil.
Once they are established, treat them to a liquid ericaceous fertiliser every couple of weeks right through the flowering season. Water regularly during dry spells, especially when they are becoming established. Acid-loving plants prefer rainwater to tap water, so invest in a water butt if you don’t already have one.
They make beautiful houseplants too, and seeing as it’s Mother’s Day on 19th March, consider choosing a beautiful azalea or rhododendron. Garsons card holders have 20% off the Plant of the Month range, so you can stock up on the azalea and rhododendron in March to take advantage of the offer.