Successfully overwinter rhododendron

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Successfully overwinter rhododendron: cold

Summer is coming to an end and the first cold autumn nights are coming. For the rhododendrons to get through the winter well, there are a few things to keep in mind.


Of course, growth and blossoms can only develop optimally if Rhododendron feels good in the garden. Rhododendrons prefer bright locations without direct sunlight (partially shaded to shady).
At the bottom of the rhododendron makes very special demands. Optimal for the growth is the following condition of the soil:
  • acidic (pH between 4.5 and 5.5)
  • limepoor
  • humus
  • relaxed
  • water and translucent
Commercially available rhododendrons are being used to fertilize rhododendrons, which provide sufficient nutrients during the growth phase.

Hibernate in the field

Summer is coming to an end and the first cold autumn nights are coming. To get the rhododendrons through the winter well, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Fertilization will be discontinued at the beginning of October in order to initiate the resting phase in winter. To protect the root ball against frost, small branches of coniferous trees can be placed around the trunk on the ground under the rhododendron. Better still are oak leaves, shredded bark of conifers or coniferous earth, these are the fallen and already slightly rotten needles under fir or spruce.
A combination of all three components results in an excellent "home-made" compost. Not only does it provide protection from the cold, it also keeps the soil loose and lowers the pH to a value favorable to rhododendrons.
If it is sunny and dry for a long time, it must also be watered in winter (beware of waterlogging). Because a rhododendron does not survive the winter, then it is usually not frozen, but thirsty. While curling leaves in summer suggests the plant has too little water, in winter this phenomenon is normal for protection against the cold.
If the sun shines unhindered for days on the evergreen leaves of the rhododendron, so this is not able to compensate for the evaporation by water absorption in frost. The leaves become dry and brown. Effective can be a kind of awning made of wooden posts and fabric or reed mats. Such a device can also be used as a windbreak.

Hibernate in the bucket

Most rhododendrons are hardy and can easily hibernate outdoors. Only tropical variants are sensitive to frost and have to go indoors. Good locations for wintering can be:
  • sheltered from the wind on a north wall of the house
  • in the shade of a gazebo
  • in a corner of the garden, which is protected by an evergreen hedge, such as thuja or juniper
It is always better if the container plant is protected on two sides (over corner), because then the site also offers the rhododendron security against extreme weather conditions such as storms or icy winds. If this is not possible, as with the plants in the earth with a sail solar radiation and wind can be weakened.


In order to insulate the root ball from the cold from below, the planter can be placed either on special feet or better on a thick pad of styrofoam. A layer of styrofoam or foil is attached to the side of the pot and wrapped in jute or coconut mats. From above, the soil should be covered with brushwood or oak leaves. In the pot is relatively little soil, so there is a risk of dehydration especially in potted plants. It is essential to check regularly in sunny and frost-free periods, whether it is necessary to pour. Despite all the insulation, the water must be able to drain, otherwise not only waterlogging, but at temperatures below freezing, a thick lump of ice, which can blow up the whole bucket.

Diseases, pests and other damages

In general, a rhododendron is quite resistant to diseases or pests. However, if they are weakened by an unfavorable location or too high a pH in the soil, they become more susceptible. Then, in rare cases, they can be visited in the summer months by mushrooms, the rhododendron cicada or the lattice bug. In winter, no infestation is expected.
Nevertheless, damage can be caused by:
  • frost damage
  • sunburn
  • dehydration
  • Weather damage caused by hail, snow load or storm
  • waterlogging
If the aforementioned rules for wintering are observed, the risk is minimized considerably and you can enjoy your rhododendron again the following spring.

Keep the plant frost-free, but how?

One way to keep the Rhododendron frost-free is to use thick coconut mats that are wrapped around the pot and a thick Styrofoam that is placed under the bottom of the pot. In addition, the pot should be thick-walled, preferably made of winter-proof wood or suitable terracotta.The potted plants often forget that they need water even in winter.
So do not forget to pour the rhododendron so that the plant does not die of thirst. Always give only a little water, so it does not destroy the roots as a frozen ice block or even blow up the pot.
Some hobby gardeners swear by pine branches that are wrapped around the rhododendron pot and protect it from the pervasive cold. Their disadvantage: The branches begin sooner or later needles and thus the pot loses its protection. The coconut mats, on the other hand, can be used anew each year and are thus, for example, a cheap investment worth a meter in the DIY store. But fleece or Schilfummantelungen are suitable for frost protection.

Favorable location close to the house, with some varieties only in the house

If you pack your evergreen container plant in such a way, you should bring it over the winter without any problems. As places for the hibernation of a rhododendron are places close to the house, which are somewhat protected against wind and rainfall, because you should not unnecessarily burden the plants by such adversities.
It becomes easy to move the plants when you put them on rollable pedestals. However, if it is not a winter hardy wood, that the cold European winter is used, you should get the pot as a precaution in the house. This is necessary with some tropical rhododendron varieties.
Who likes to surround himself with lush flowering shrubs, finds in the evergreen rhododendron an absolute asset to the garden or the terrace. Whether as a container plant or in the field - with a few simple precautions a hibernation is also easy to handle for the layman.

Video Board: How to Propagate Rhododendrons with a Nearing Frame; Taking Cuttings in the Hoop House.

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