Rhododendrons as a hedge

Discussion in 'Ericaceae (rhododendrons, arbutus, etc.)' started by alour, Jan 15, 2017.

  1. alour

    alour New Member

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    Vancouver, BC
    I have just taken down an old pyramid cedar hedge at the front of my property on the advice of 2 arborists who advised that one of the main problems was too much shade from surrounding trees. I would like to replace it with an informal hedge entirely of rhododendrons - total of about 40'. I live on a very busy street and the rhodos would get part sun or dappled shade depending on their position. Does anyone have any advice on using rhodos as a hedge? Preferred height at maturity is 5-6' and I love vibrant colours, such as red, purple or hot pink. I am thinking one colour and one variety all the way across is the way to go - any comments on this?

    I found a variety called "Nova Zembla" which "grows in difficult areas" and sounds very hardy. Is this easy to acquire in BC?

    I am not much of a gardener and am not looking for complicated plantings or high maintenance plants.
  2. 0soyoung

    0soyoung Rising Contributor

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    Anacortes, WA
    I am using three rhodies as a privacy fence for my street-side patio. I shear them into three overlapping cube shapes because it amuses me to do so, instead of leaving them as one big mass. My point to you is that they (rhodies, in general) can easily be made dense and maintained in that state if you want. Just prune or shear to shape as the flowers wane. Latent buds will be released to make additional shoots/branches (at places where one can see a little eye-like feature called 'an eye' by many gardeners) even if you cut back into old wood. Once a year. That is all there is to it.

    My rhodies came with my house and I can only guess that they are more than 20 years old and I haven't any idea what cultivars they are. There are many homes in my neighborhood with very healthy old rhodies along their north facing walls that could easily be made into simple geometric shapes just as I've been treating mine along the street in a bit more sun for the last 10 years. My wife and I also have some baby specimen rhodies in shade some of which my wife has let me do 'my way'; they are quite dense and flower heavily, The others that she minimally prunes appear more natural and flower nicely. My point being that I don't think you necessarily need special varieties to make what you want. It may well be a good idea to choose 'grows in difficult area' cultivars as it may help get to your goal more quickly. I do not know.

    Being in shade, they (rhodies, in general) will tend to put out spindly growth, which you counteract with pruning right after flowering, but then you're almost back to where you started height-wise. For the first few years it might require comparing what you've got to a photo from when you started to recognize that you're making progress, regardless of what you choose.
    Daniel Mosquin likes this.
  3. rhodomontade

    rhodomontade Active Member

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    Hello alour: A couple of links to check out. Much depends on the height you want and how busy the street is.
    Careful pruning is essential to maintain shape and density. You might also want to consider camellia, though their light conditions are slightly different.

    Rhododendrons for Hedging and Screening.
    How to Plant Rhododendrons Close Together

    The choice of rhodo depends on how much sun you have though despite what some may say, rhodos do just fine with even full sun as long as you water them regularly (and remember any watering restrictions that Vancouver likes to impose). They're thirsty critters and need a lot in water.

    And check your soil, acidify if possible, whilst maintaining good drainage.

    Hope the above links are useful.

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