Rhododendron: care

Rhododendron is an easy-to-grow shrub.

The rhododendron is a shrub that can be kept both in a pot and in the garden. It is one of those plants that tolerates pruning quite well, from which it recovers without difficulty, so it is easy to control its growth and even work it so that it has a bushy or tree-like appearance if that is what interests us.

Its flowers have a great ornamental value; their colors contrast with the green of their leaves, and they also remain open for several days. But you should also know that it can be very demanding when grown in a climate that is not the most suitable for it. That's why we want you to know what are the rhododendron care; this way you can have it beautiful.

Potted Rhododendron Care

The rhododendron is a plant that can be kept in a pot

Don't you have a garden? Do you want to have it on the patio? If you've answered yes to any of these questions, then you'll be interested in how to care for potted rhododendrons. So let's see what they are:

Plastic or clay pot?

As you probably know, there are several types of pots. For the plant that we are going to grow, we recommend choosing a plastic one or a clay one. The first has the advantage that it is lighter, cheaper and more durable if it is of good quality; the second, on the other hand, is heavier, so it is more difficult for the wind to blow it away, but it is also more expensive.

In any case, it has to be planted in one that has holes in its base. It should not be put in one that does not have it, since it does not tolerate excess water.

Soil or substrate

El rhododendron it is an acid plant. This is very important to know because if it is grown on land with a pH of 7 or higher, it will have iron chlorosis due to lack of iron. And it is that a soil can contain this mineral, but the higher the pH, the less accessible it will be for the roots, since it is blocked.

Therefore, if you are going to have it in a pot, you must fill it with any of these substrates:

  • Substrate for acid plants, such as Flower for example (you can buy it here)
  • Coir
  • Or with the following mixture: 70% akadama + 30% kanuma


Since it is an acid plant, it would be useless to have it in a suitable soil if we water it with water with a pH of 7 or higher (that is, alkaline), since the water would raise the pH of the soil. For this reason, it is important to irrigate with rainwater whenever possible, or failing that with one that is suitable for human consumption. In case our tap water has a very high pH, ​​we can acidify it if we add a few drops of lemon or vinegar.

But when should you water the rhododendron? It will depend on the weather conditions, but if it doesn't rain, it is advisable to hydrate it every 3 days in summer, and every 6-7 days the rest of the year.


As it is potted, we recommend fertilizing it with specific fertilizers for acid plants, like this one fertiberia, or with natural fertilizers such as guano as long as they are liquid. Likewise, the instructions for use must be followed, since this will achieve a healthy rhododendron.

Pot change

Rhododendron has a slow growth rate, but it is important that we remember to plant it in a larger (it must measure about 5-7 centimeters wider and higher than the one it has) when the roots come out of the drainage holes, or when it has been in it for more than 3 or 4 years. This will be done in late winter or early spring, before flowering.


The pruning will be done in autumn so as not to run the risk of not producing flowers that year. It will consist in:

  • Remove dead branches
  • Trim back a bit the ones that have grown too much
  • Give it an oval and compact shape

Rhododendron care in the garden

Rhododendron in the garden is easy to care for

Rhododendron is a great garden plant, but only if it meets the conditions it needs to be successful. In fact, in places like the Mediterranean region it is a very demanding species, since the soil is usually clayey and therefore has a pH of 7 or higher, and the irrigation water is also usually alkaline, so it has to be use bottled water or acidify it with lemon or vinegar.

Therefore, if we want to have it in the garden, we must know that:

  • The earth must be acid, with a pH between 4 to 6.
  • Drain must be fast; that is to say, that it has to be a floor that does not get waterlogged easily, and that when it rains or it is irrigated, the water is absorbed quickly.
  • The weather must be temperate, with mild summers and cold winters. It resists frost down to -18ºC, but temperatures above 30ºC do not suit it, since they slow down its growth.

And having said that, let's see what care we have to give it if it is going to be in the garden:


The rhododendron is a plant that it has to be placed in an area where there is a lot of light, but without direct sunlight or, at least, during the central hours of the day. If the place where you live the summers are very hot, with temperatures of 30ºC or more and there are tropical nights (with minimum temperatures of 20ºC), you should put it in the shade.


Rhododendron blooms in spring

Our protagonist grows in acidic or slightly acidic soils, light, and with good drainage. When the one in the garden is not like that, a planting hole of at least 1 x 1 meter must be made, cover its sides, except the base, with shading mesh, and fill it with soil for acid plants or fiberglass. coconut.


Irrigation will be done with rainwater or suitable for consumption. If it is irrigated with alkaline water, that is, with a pH of 7 or higher, the plant will not survive. In addition, You should know that you have to water it more or less 3 times a week during the summer, and a little less the rest of the year.


If we have it in the garden, It is recommended to fertilize it with powdered or granulated organic fertilizers in spring and summer.. For example, with chicken manure or with guano You have to add one or two handfuls -depending on the size of the plant- once every 15 or 30 days.


Pruning is not necessary, unless we are interested in forming it as a tree or small tree. In this case, we must bear in mind that it is actually a bush, and that it develops several stems. We can choose one of these stems and eliminate the rest, or leave them but prune the branches so that it ends up being an oval or even irregular cup.

Pruning will be done in autumn, after flowering, with previously disinfected pruning tools. Here is more information:

Related article:
How is the rhododendron pruning?

With these tips, we hope that you can have a very beautiful rhododendron.

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