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April's plant of the month is the rhododendron28 March 2014
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.