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April's plant of the month is the rhododendron

28 March 2014
April's plant of the month is the rhododendron

April's plant of the month is the rhododendron, one of the most spectacular plants you'll plant in your garden. A majestic large shrub of large, glossy, evergreen leaves for most of the year, in April and May it erupts into a positive explosion of huge blooms in brilliant carmine, pink or pure white.

Among a huge range of really wonderful varieties are 'Cynthia', with rose-pink flowers; Rhododendron luteum which is deciduous and has scented yellow flowers; and pink-flushed white 'Christmas Cheer'. They make magnificent specimen shrubs, growing to 3m and more.~

If space in the garden is limited, though, 'yak' rhododendrons (short for Rhododendron yakushimanum) are just as beautiful and free-flowering as their bigger cousins, but grow to no more than 1.5m tall. Among the best yaks are 'Koichiro Wada', with wine-red buds opening pale pink, 'Dopey' in pure carmine red, and palest pink 'Percy Wiseman'.

Rhododendrons need an acid soil, with a pH of 6 or below to thrive. If yours isn't perfect, simply plant into containers of ericaceous (acidic) compost - you'll find it in our garden centre. Otherwise they're easy going: just give them a sheltered spot in dappled shade and damp soil and they'll produce that wonderful, heart-stopping display for many more years to come.