Rhododendron and Azaleas
The origins of Rhododendrons can be traced back millions of years to a wide range of countries and climate conditions. Evolution and breeding have produced a range of species and situations.
Rhododendrons and Azaleas are mainly evergreen and some could justify their place in a garden by their leaves alone. Some deciduous Azaleas are also valued for their stunning autumn colour.
Rhododendrons do require a lime free soil (p.H. 70 or less) but their shallow rooting nature means they can even be grown on raised beds 400-450mm over more alkaline soils. However, shallow roots indicate a need for mulch and additional irrigation in dry summers.
Non-alkaline organic material - peat, leaf mould or pine bark - will help moisture retention on light sandy soils and help lighten and improve drainage on heavy soils.
Pruning is not generally required but should the hardy types grow too big they can be cut back hard before growth starts in the spring. A watch should be kept for suckers that should be removed, or the plant can be taken over.