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by Bmetrix

Size and Growth Habit

Rhododendron sizes affect where they should be planted

Another part of the planning process that is often overlooked is the size and growth habit. If you see a plant that is described as a four foot plant, remember that the height description means, "Will grow approximately 4 feet in ten years." This indicates that it can be maintained quite nicely at the four foot height with proper pruning. However, a four foot plant can grow much taller and sometimes get much wider than its height after the first ten years if it is not maintained.

Trying to keep a six foot plant at the three or four foot size can be a real disaster. Cutting back a rhododendron improperly makes for the ugly look. Cutting back also takes away potential blooms for the following year. Some plants tend to mound and look best individually. Some make a nice mass planting and others might be a good hedge look. I drove by a grouping of PJMs the other day that made a spectular six foot hedge - in full bloom! They would be just as nice all summer since they have a bushy look.

Want a "rhododendron tree"? Go for the six to eight footers like Loderi King George or Catawbiense Grandiflorum. Plant them in an outlying area of the garden. Each year you might want to prune a little at the bottom of the plant. In ten to fifteen years you will be well on your way to a thirty foot tree!
Rhododendron News