Rhododendron and Azalea Care

Rhododendrons and their small-leaf cousins azaleas require special attention to watering in their first couple of years. They should be watered thoroughly, enough to saturate the root ball, but then allowed to dry before watering again. We don’t want the plants to get so dry that they become drought stressed, but we don’t want them wet all the time either. Young plants that stay too wet for too long are susceptible to root rot which can kill the plant.

We always give our rhodies and azaleas a light trim after they flower. They can be trimmed again in June or early July if needed. We don’t trim after mid-summer, as flower buds for the following year are usually set in August. A late season pruning is likely to reduce or eliminate flowering the following year.

Deer love to snack on rhodies and azaleas. It is possible to keep deer away with repellents, but that can be a lot of work. In places where deer grazing is a problem, it’s preferable to use deer resistant plants such as andromeda, boxwood, or leucothoe.