Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rhododendron Behemoth

Out here in the Pacific Northwest, rhododendrons can be found in just about every yard, park, or meadow. They love the climate and grow like crazy. And I mean like hyper-overdrive crazy. You never need to fertilize them ... they are happy with months of drizzle and survive the summer scorching sun. We have several of them in our yard, and every year I hack them down by at least 2 feet on all sides and the bottom, as well as thin out the interior. It's a huge job and takes a full weekend. Here's the thing ... they grow back twice as full after trimming. One year, I hacked them back so much that my husband issued a trimming citation to me. It was all for naught, though, because the beasties grew back twice as full. It's a weird catch 22. If you don't trim them, they'll over take the landscaping. If you do trim them, they grow back with gusto. We even had one plant that we hacked right down to the ground. That was about 3 years ago, and now the thing is HUGE. They only bloom in the spring providing tons of stunning color in the yard and pollen for bumble bees. There's usually a ball and frizbee or two hidden in it's depths. Jeepers! I'm just thankful it hasn't swallowed one of the kids yet. It's a jungle in there.

In the photo, you can see that these plants are heavily weighted down with flowers. No scent, just lots of beauty. Once the flowers fall off, we'll "dead head" the botanical beasts, and then its time to wack the behemoth back a couple of feet.


Marjie said...

We have a number of rhodos in pink & white. I love them. I believe mine are between 50 and 80 years old. Believe it or not, they have a very tiny root ball, and can be transplanted even when they are huge! Yours are so pretty in red!

That backyard should be filling up with vacationing kids about now, too!

Rhea said...

Wow, those are ROBUST! Gorgeous bushes...beautiful flowerings, but I hear your problem. LOL I wish I had that problem...I usually grow weeds really well or nothing at all. :o)

Paula said...

Marjie - I'm too afraid to check out the rootball for fear that the plant will swallow me whole (I can hear it going mmuuuhhhaaa!) My neighbors rhodies are pink and white, too, and they are lovely. I have a lilac one in the back that's over 7' tall ... grew over 2.5 feet this year!

Hi Rhea - I wonder if Home Depot makes some special tool for trimming these, perhaps a riding shrub-master -- that's what I could use a free lesson on! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.