The Q&A Archives: Rhododendron

Question: I grew two beautiful rhododenron shrubs this year in large clay pots. Do I need to put them in the ground, move them inside for the winter or leave them alone?

Answer: Unfortunately, this is not going to be easy. If you leave clay pots outside over the winter, they will be ruined by freeze/thaw damage, so the pots will have to be stored indoors where they can be kept dry. I would not expect the rhododendrons to survive your winter weather outdoors in a container, or in the ground if planted in the fall. These shrubs however also will not do well if treated like house plants. You might be able to overwinter them in their containers in a cool greenhouse (temperatures above freezing but no warmer than the mid 40's) or possibly in a garage by a bright window or similar place with temperatures above freezing but below 45 degrees. They should rest during the winter, do not fertilize them or expect them to grow. Water just enough to keep the soil barely damp while they are indoors. Bring them inside in late fall before the weather turns frigid (frosts will not hurt the plants) and take them back outside in the early spring to reawaken naturally with the season. Good luck overwintering these!

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