The rhododendron is a shrub that comes in many diverse species, but most people use the word to refer to Rhododendron catawbiense and its hybrids. These shrubs have large, leathery, shiny leaves and bright trumpet-shaped flowers in large trusses that bloom in late spring or summer. They have a lot of landscape impact with their colorful red, lavender, white, yellow, and pink globes of flowers, about seven inches wide. The rhododendrons vary from dwarf types to rangy natives 15 to 20 feet tall. The leaves are evergreen.
How to grow: Plant rhododendrons where they have room to grow to their large mature size. Plants prefer partial shade and rich, moist, acidic soil that is well drained. Remove seed heads carefully, so as not to disturb emerging shoots. Prune for shape after flowers bloom, only if necessary.
Uses: Woodland gardens, shrubbery borders, and foundation plantings.
Scientific name: Rhododendron species