26 April 2016 by Dr Jane Bingham
Rhododendrons have the most spectacular flowers of all evergreen garden plants and bring a welcome display of colour to late spring and early summer. Rhododendrons do really well here in Scotland with our cool climate, low light levels and largely acidic soils. There are many magnificent Rhododendron gardens to visit to enjoy their brilliance on a grand scale. Choose from the fantastic range here at The Mains of Drum and enjoy them at home in your own garden.
What’s the difference between Rhododendrons and Azaleas?
Azalea is the common name for a group within the Rhododendron genus – the proper name for azalea is ‘Rhododendron’. Confusing I know, but essentially azaleas often have small leaves, are small to medium in size and can be evergreen or non-evergreen. Rhododendrons have larger leaves, are small, medium or large and are all evergreen.
Rhododendrons and azaleas thrive in acid soil. Such plants are called ericaceous plants. They are also known as acid-loving or lime-hating plants.
Help them along by mixing ericaceous compost into well-drained humus-rich soil at planting time. Thereafter, each spring mulch the moist soil surface with a thin layer of ericaceous compost, pulverized bark, pine needles or leaf mould to trap in moisture. Feed with ericaceous fertiliser fortnightly and keep plants well watered in dry spells, particularly in late summer and autumn. The roots lie very close to the surface and should never be allowed to dry out. This will ensure a glorious display of flowers again in the following year.
Rhododendrons and azaleas can be grown in pots of ericaceous compost – I think half whisky barrels look good. Make sure the pot drains well. For best results choose evergreen azaleas, like ‘Geisha Purple’ or ‘Florida’ (red) or dwarf rhododendrons like ‘Scarlet Wonder’ or ‘Wee Bee’ (pink) for pots, or how about ‘Grumpy’, ‘Dopey’ or one of the other dwarves?
Generally speaking Rhododendrons and azaleas do best in partial or dappled shade but here in the north give them a sunnier spot to allow for our reduced light levels.
Rhododendrons and azaleas look good with any other plants but are particularly splendid when grown with other acid-loving (ericaceous plants) such as Pieris, Japanese Acer, Enkianthus or Gaultheria. Extend the season of interest by choosing those with interesting leaves, like R. ‘Goldflimmer’ with its gold-splashed leaves, or by planting them with later-flowering plants like hydrangeas, clematis, lilies, and plants that bear berries.
Rhododendrons and azaleas, ericaceous compost, bark mulch, ericaceous feed and half barrels are all on sale now at The Mains of Drum.
Summer bedding time is fast approaching and our shelves are filling up with a fabulous array of packs and pots of garden-ready bedding plants and patio plants for dazzling summer displays. From Ageratums to Zinnias, for borders, baskets and pots, in any colour that takes your fancy, you will be spoilt for choice at The Mains of Drum.
We have a superb selection of roses in stock with many more arriving at The Mains of Drum now. There are famous names – David Austin and Peter Beales, roses for special occasions, roses for arches, pergolas, mixed borders, elegant rose gardens and pots, roses that ramble up high and roses that scramble across the ground. Our experts are happy to help you choose.
Dr Jane Bingham