The Q&A Archives: Planting Under Rhododendrons

Question: I have flower beds with old rhodies and want to plant a<br>perennial border, but am afraid to dig up the soil and disturb the roots of the rhodies. Is there a way to do this?

Answer: Rhododendrons have roots very near the surface and dislike anything living there that might compete for moisture and nutrients. The shade is fairly dense under rhodies, which makes it difficult for other plants to survive. You can plant perennials a few feet away from rhodies, or try planting shade-loving annuals under the rhodies. Digging an occasional hole under the rhododendrons won't compromise the root system, or do much damage. Annuals are shallow-rooted and live for such a short time that their presence shouldn't bother the rhodies. Why not plant impatiens, lobelia, or viola, rather than perennials under the rhodies?

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