The most lushly flowering Rhododendron shrubs in the garden make a lasting impression even in their modest pots. Rhododendron shrubs seem to be an almost ethereal spectacle like clouds in full bloom. Despite their unruly nature, they never lose their popularity. rhododendron requires careful care. They have requirements for watering, water quality, or air humidity, and living conditions. And the better they are, the more colorful these beautiful oriental beauties bloom. You will learn how to care Rhododendron plants in the ThumbGarden article.
RHODODENDRON PLANT DESCRIPTION
Unlike the garden favorites, indoor Rhododendrons are still more commonly known as Rhododendrons, an old synonym. However, they have been singled out as a special group to emphasize how the compact potted Rhododendron differs from the Rhododendron in the garden.
Indoor Rhododendron – A hybrid dwarf species derived from Rhododendron simsii and Rhododendron obtusum (the legendary Indian and Japanese Rhododendron).
The solid flowers hide the greenery behind a dense flower shield. The low matted shrubs have dense, dense, spreading, upward-extending crowns. Potted Rhododendron is limited to a maximum height of 20 inches (50 cm), although most species do not exceed 12 inches (30 cm). The strongly branched shoots, decorated with distinctive leathery, dark, oval-shaped leaflets, are inimitable.
Rhododendron is one of the most beautiful plants. They are often made into bonsai or shrubs with more distinctive silhouettes, stems, and original figures. But sometimes, these techniques only prevent you from enjoying the unique beauty that has become a benchmark of the style.
Indoor Rhododendron can be seen in bloom at any time of the year. The classic blooming period is in the winter, when temperatures drop in November, stimulating germination.
Transparent, watercolor or acrylic, delicate or bright shades – Rhododendron shows its best white, pink, red, and purple colors. Terry and plain, large and plain, double flower or plain variations make a choice more difficult. The choice of “your own” Rhododendron should be based on taste and personal ambiance, as a spot of color can have a major impact on the house’s atmosphere.
GROWING CONDITIONS FOR INDOOR RHODODENDRON PLANTS
This legendary perennial deserves attention, respect, and a wise choice. And you shouldn’t throw it away as a “living bouquet” after its only flowering period. But Rhododendron requires special conditions and cool temperatures. If you can’t recreate them, indoor Rhododendron won’t last long in your home.
Lighting and placement
Rhododendrons are afraid of both strong shade and direct sunlight in a room. They are displayed in areas with soft, diffused light. This plant is suitable for decorating a bright room, provided it is not too far from the window. Planted shrubs are best placed below eye level.
Rhododendron is less sensitive to changes in location than its competitors but is not experimented with in the germination and flowering stages. Even turning may cause buds to fall off and shorten the flowering period.
Temperature and ventilation
Rhododendron prefers to stay cool and does not like high temperatures. And this is not relevant for overwintering: even in summer, Rhododendron needs protection from heat. Therefore, maximum temperatures are best limited to 64 °F (18 °C), and you should try to keep the average temperature around 59 °F (15 °C) or slightly lower.
Plants will prefer to maintain lower temperatures-42-50 °F (6-10°C) to get more buds in the fall (classic bloom time is late November). A rise in temperature to 60-64 °F (16-18 °C) stimulates flowering, and a return to 53-59 °F (12-15 °C) prolongs flowering. Higher temperatures not only shorten the flowering period by a factor of 6 to 8, but they also require more care to compensate.
At any time of the year, Rhododendron will not tolerate large fluctuations in temperature and will respond by dropping buds. Sudden fluctuations should be avoided by limiting temperature rises to a maximum of 39-41 °F (4-5 °C).
In summer (until the end of August), Rhododendron indoors can be placed outdoors in semi-shade or shade, protected from the wind (but not from rain), displayed in a garden or on a balcony, or in pots buried in open soil. In the room, frequent and careful ventilation is essential. No water drops are allowed.
CARING FOR RHODODENDRON PLANTS AT HOME
Rhododendrons do not tolerate watering failures. But the most difficult part of their cultivation is maintaining the correct air humidity.
Watering and air humidity
This shrub does not tolerate completely dry soil (if the soil is dry, soak it immediately in warm water). Allow only the surface of the substrate to dry slightly between waterings during the active growth period and dry the soil to a depth of several inches during the rest period. Rhododendron is easier to water, not by the classic method, but by immersing the container in the soil in the ground or by bottom watering in a tray.
When watering, it is important to use soft water, preferably rain, acidified, or melted water, and drain excess water after 10-15 minutes. Lower water temperatures can compensate for excessive air temperatures, but within reason, there is not much difference – up to 41 °F (5 °C) temperature. Sometimes “cooled” snow is placed in trays or on the soil surface for Rhododendron. But this should only be done systematically and with proper advice given at the time of purchase.
Air humidity is a key factor in the cultivation of Rhododendron indoors. They need a figure of at least 70% and cannot tolerate anything close to a heater (although they grow well in air-conditioned rooms). Humidifiers (such as trays with wet moss) and frequent water mist sprays are also appropriate. No water droplets should accumulate on buds or flowers.
Fertilizer and fertilizer composition
For indoor Rhododendron, fertilize in liquid form only during the green growth stage, once a week in spring and summer (or reduce the dose per watering). During the germination stage, apply phosphorus fertilizer once. During flowering, once a month. Only fertilizers for Rhododendron are suitable. Mineral and organic fertilizers can be used interchangeably.
Pruning and shaping Rhododendron
Rhododendron in the room needs to be pruned regularly. After flowering, all shoots are shortened by 2 inches (5 cm), performed, and sanitary cleaning removes damaged weak unproductive shoots. Once the new shoots start to grow, they are pruned after the third pair of leaves, continuing the pruning process until the buds start to set. Once the buds are set, remove any lateral branches that have started to grow near the buds.
Gently pull off wilted flowers periodically during flowering. Otherwise, the flowering period will be short.
Transplanting, containers, and substrates
Rhododendron requires special soil with high peat content. Ready-made, special Rhododendron substrates are the most reliable choice. However, you can try using a mixture of heath or peat soil and coniferous soil with coarse sand. When planting, you should add carbolic acid and loosener to the substrate. The pH of the soil should be 4-4.5. Rhododendron grows well in other soils, including inert substrates and hydroponics.
For Rhododendron indoors, only light-colored containers adapted to its light-colored rhizomes are suitable. High drainage is mandatory.
Repotting is only necessary when the pot space is filled with roots and only once a year for young shrubs. Due to the sensitivity of shrubs to root contact, transplanting should be done without damaging the root ball and without flooding the root neck. Topsoil should always be replaced in years when repotting is not necessary.
Diseases, pests and cultivation problems
Rhododendron is subject to whiteflies, aphids, spider mites, and a specific pest, the Rhododendron moth. it is not uncommon for Rhododendron to suffer from rust, rot, and mosaic disease. Infected plants should be immediately isolated by sanitary pruning and treatment with insecticides or fungicides.
Rhododendron responds to any watering problems and high temperatures by shriveling and yellowing the leaves. On the other hand, issues with flowering are most often caused by dry air and lack of light.
Propagation of Rhododendron indoors
Indoor Rhododendron is propagated by cuttings and, less frequently, by bush division or grafting. Summer semi-woody cuttings, 2 inches (5 cm) in length, rooted after removing the lower leaves and treating them with a stimulant under a hood, in acidic soil at about 77 °F (25 °C).