10 Varieties of Rhododendrons to Try in Your Yard (+ Growing Tips)

Looking for an evergreen shrub that loves the shade, bears large flowers, is low maintenance and will last for decades? Then look no further than the hardy rhododendron.

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Photo By: www.provenwinners.com

Photo By: Monrovia

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Photo By: Monrovia

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Easy and Elegant Rhodies

It's best to plant your rhododendrons in spring or early fall. If your soil is fertile, you probably won't need to fertilize them. Otherwise, feed them with a product labeled for azaleas and rhododendrons and follow the package directions for how much to apply and how often. Torn between azaleas and rhododendrons for your landscape? Both kinds of shrubs are in the Rhododendron genus and thrive in well-drained, acidic soils, although rhododendrons are usually bigger plants with bigger leaves and flower clusters, also called trusses. For best results, plant rhododendron varieties recommended for your region.

Rhododendron 'Dandy Man Color Wheel'

'Dandy Man Color Wheel', shown here, spins through four colors: lipstick-red buds and ruffled blooms that open to soft pink inside and deep pink outside. The fourth color? The flowers age to pure white before they drop. The plants, which are hardy in USDA Zones 5-9, hold their leathery leaves throughout the winter. They're also deer resistant and take part sun to sun. They grow from 48 to 96 inches tall and wide and make good hedges, border plants or specimen plants.

Rhododendron 'P.J.M.'

Bright lavender-purple blooms and dark green leaves make 'P.J.M.' rhododendrons show-stoppers. This variety is hardy in Zones 4-8 and attractive even in winter when its evergreen foliage takes on a mahogany-brown tint. Try it in borders, mass plantings or containers.

Rhododendron 'September Song'

Despite its name, 'September Song' opens its loose, showy clusters of orange, pink and yellow blooms in spring. This evergreen shrub is hardy in Zones 6-8 and works beautifully as a foundation plant or in a mixed border. It grows at a moderate rate to reach four to five feet tall, with a wider spread, and, like most rhododendrons, it's easy to care for. Plant it with camellias, gardenias, azaleas or coral bells. Give it partial sun and regular water, especially if you're in a warm region or if it's planted in a container.

Rhododendron 'Southgate Brandi'

With pink buds that open to ruffled pink blooms, 'Southgate Brandi' is a heat-tolerant, evergreen rhododendron for Zones 6-9. This petite shrub stays small, maturing at around three to four feet tall and wide, so it's ideal for containers or growing along the edge of a path or walkway. Give it part sun to full shade. It has good resistance to pests and tolerates heat. The leaves remain on the plants and stay colorful in the winter. 'Southgate Brandi,' like most rhododendrons, doesn't need much pruning, but if you do want to trim it, it's best to do so just after the flowers fade in spring.

Rhododendron 'Nova Zembla'

Bright red flowers make 'Nova Zembla' a winner in the garden. Hardy in Zones 4-8, this small, evergreen rhododendron can become deep pink in sunny areas. It needs partial sun and regular watering, but you'll probably need to water weekly or more often when the temperatures climb. Thanks to its upright, dense growth habit, 'Nova Zembla' can be grown as a privacy screen or hedge, and it works equally well when planted in masses or in a mixed border. This showy shrub needs lots of room, maturing at five feet tall and wide. Hollies, hydrangeas, astilbes and coral bells are good companion plants.

Rhododendron 'Amy Cotta'

Need a flowering shrub for a small space? 'Amy Cotta' fits the bill. This semi-dwarf shrub has ruffled, pink-lavender blooms and grows to two or three feet tall and about three to four feet wide. It prefers part to full sun and is hardy in Zones 4-9. This evergreen rhododendron has azalea-like leaves and slowly grows into a mounded form, so it’s fine for planting around foundations or in a mixed border or woodland garden. Be conservative if you prune it. A light trim is usually all it needs and make sure you prune in the late spring after it blooms.

Rhododendron 'Black Hat'

'Black Hat' is a very early spring bloomer with bright purple ruffled flowers and deep purplish-green, leathery foliage. Hardy in Zones 4-8, this small shrub holds its leaves year-round. Expect it to mature at just 36 inches tall and wide, so try it in a small garden spot or a container. Give it part sun to sun and prune lightly, if at all. Try 'Black Hat' in a border or in masses and enjoy the color changes that cold weather brings when the foliage becomes very dark green with hints of purple and black.

Rhododendron 'Cherry Cheesecake"

This plant with a yummy-sounding name has blooms that you could describe as decadent. The ruffled, dark pink and white flowers have red margins and a deep-red smudge on each upper lobe. Hardy in Zones 5-7, 'Cherry Cheesecake' is an evergreen with a slow, mounding growth habit; in time, it reaches four to five feet tall and wide. Plant it with hydrangeas, bleeding hearts (Dicentras) or coral bells in partial shade to partial sun, where it will often attract birds and butterflies. It's excellent as an accent plant or in a hedge, woodland garden or container.

Rhododenron 'Chionoides'

'Chionoides' blooms in mid to late spring, so you can use it to extend your flower show if most of your rhododendrons are early bloomers. Each large, round flower cluster can contain over a dozen bell-shaped white blooms splashed with yellow. The plants are compact and dense, growing an average of four feet tall and four to six feet wide, so they're great for planting in an informal hedge or along a foundation. This evergreen shrub takes part shade to full sun and is hardy in Zones 5-9. It's easy to grow, but like most rhododendrons, water it regularly and often in hot weather or if it's in a container.

Rhododendron 'Roseum Elegans'

Vigorous 'Roseum Elegans' is an evergreen rhododendron prized for its large, rose and lilac-colored flowers. This late-spring bloomer likes partial sun and is recommended for Zones 4-8; it doesn't mind cool temperatures but its large, broad leaves need some protection from harsh winter winds. It can reach six to eight feet tall and wide, so give it plenty of space in a woodland garden or naturalized area. It also makes an attractive specimen plant.

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