The Q&A Archives: Rhododendron catawbiense blooms???

Question: I planted 2 rhododendron catawbiense on the east exposure on my house where they received filtered sun light the first part of the morning and a couple of hours of mid day direct light. They have been there for 3 years and almost triple in size, and they look very healthy, but they have never bloomed!!! Is there something I can do to encourage blooming for next spring???

Answer: It sounds like your plants are doing very well. Rhododendrons often take several years to become well rooted and established enough to bloom so there may not be anything you really need to do except be patient a little longer. Meanwhile make sure they are mulched with several inches of organic mulch such as pine bark, topdress with compost and a slow release fertilizer for acid loving plants such as Hollytone in spring per the label directions, and keep the soil evenly moist in times of drought. Keep in mind the flower buds are set the previous year, so do not prune except in early summer right after the bloom season. The only caution I can think of is to be sure you are not overfertilizing with nitrogen as this could encourage excessive growth at the expense of blooming. I hope this helps -- they are worth the wait!

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