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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - September 10, 2008

From: Brooklyn, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Rhododendrons for afternoon sun
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Thanks for your suggestion that I plant rhodedenrons in my Brooklyn garden. In fact, the only bushes I've planted in the past that have survived are rhodedenrons so your definitely right! Here's my problem- the 2 places I want to plant bushes get afternoon sun - one gets about 3 hours of mid noon sun, the other, 2-3 hours of late noon sun and I know rhod. prefer morning sun. Is there a particular variety that you would recommend for afternoon sun? Thanks.

ANSWER:

Although morning sun is preferable, Mr. Smarty Plants doesn't think your 2-3 hours of mid-noon and early afternoon sun will be a serious problem for any of the rhododendrons below, except for possibly, R. prinophyllum (early azalea) which prefers shade (less than 2 hours of sun per day).  The others do well in part shade (defined as 2-6 hours of sun per day) and R. canadense (rhodora) will grow in full sun. However, there are other factors such as soil pH and soil moisture that could make a difference in your success.  Since I don't know what your soil pH and soil moisture is, I can't really recommend one of these species over another.  I can, however, highlight those factors in each of the species:

Rhododendron arborescens (smooth azalea)—part shade and moist acidic soil.  This is a very hardy azalea.

Rhododendron calendulaceum (flame azalea)—part shade and dry acidic soil.

Rhododendron canadense (rhodora)—sun, part shade and wet acidic soil.

Rhododendron lapponicum (Lapland rosebay)—part shade and dry limey (alkaline) soil.

Rhododendron maximum (great laurel)—part shade and wet acidic soil.

Rhododendron periclymenoides (pink azalea)—part shade and wet acidic soil.

Rhododendron prinophyllum (early azalea)—shade and moist neutral soils.  This is a hardy azalea.

Rhododendron viscosum (swamp azalea)—part shade and wet acidic soil.

You might check in our National Suppliers Directory for a nursery in your area that specializes in native plants to see what they have available.  They could most likely advise you further about which species or cultivar would best suit your shade condidtions, soil type and moisture.

 

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