The Q&A Archives: Rhododendron Growing

Question: I have planted a Rhododendron on the south side of my house this year and it seems to be growing really good except I have noticed that all of the new leaves that are coming out are a lot lighter than the older ones. I had read somewhere that you should add coffee grounds around the plant because they like acid ground so I did and then put a lot of mulch around it. Should I be doing something else. I think these plants are really pretty and I want to do the right thing.

Answer: It's not unusual for new rhodie leaves to be lighter in color than the older leaves. They will darken as they mature. You're correct, though, that the plants prefer to grow in acidic soils. Coffee grounds are a reasonable addition to the mulch material, but you may get better results if you mulch rhodies with peat moss, which is quite acidic. Or, you can feed your rhodies with a specialized food that contains acidifiers. In either case, be sure to supply your plant with about an inch of water per week during the growing season to help keep it healthy.

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