The rhododendron brings color to your garden with its many different flower colors. The shrub, also known as alpine rose, is one of the most demanding flowering shrubs. The right light and soil conditions help the shrub develop its colorful splendor. In the following article you will find out what requirements the shrub has for its location and how to transplant the rhododendron if the conditions are not suitable.

The ideal time

Before the rhododendron is transplanted, the season should be right for it. It is important that the roots are allowed to develop again after transplanting. This is possible twice a year:

  • in spring: early to mid-April
  • in autumn: between September and November

At the time of transplanting, the soil should be well warmed up or it will get warmer in the next few days. The ground must be completely thawed and there must be no frost.

Autumn is more suitable because at this time of year the soil offers optimal growth conditions with a temperature of 17 to 22°C. The time until the first frost is long enough for the vital roots to form.

1st step: Choosing the right location

Before you dig up your alpine rose and move it to the new location, you should consider where you want to move the rhododendron.`

The rhododendron needs a soil that is as lime-free as possible and rich in humus. The natural location of the flowering shrub is light, cool deciduous forests with high humidity and airy soil made of deciduous humus. As far as possible, the natural location should be simulated in the garden.

A semi-shaded location is best. A larger, deciduous tree offers ideal protection from strong sunlight and wind. Some species can also tolerate more sun exposure if the soil is sufficiently moist. When choosing a suitable shade provider, make sure that the root system of the tree is not too dominant. The Scots pine, for example, is suitable for this.

Tip: You should leave the fallen leaves of the tree so that they can form a layer of humus. This offers ideal conditions for the annual growth of the alpine rose. Until the humus has formed, the soil must be artificially enriched with humus. To do this, spread peat-free bark compost 25 to 30 cm over a large area of ​​the earth.

If the soil is loamy, drainage is necessary so that the roots do not stand in the water after heavy rainfall. This can lead to the death of the roots.

Tip: Dig a 50 cm deep hole and fill the bottom 20 cm with a layer of lime-free gravel or building sand. Then fill in the remaining hole with soil.

2nd step: The preparation

Transplanting the rhododendron is easy as it has shallow roots. The numerous fibrous roots are only in the upper, thick layer of humus and are not anchored in the subsoil. As a result, the plants are usually not anchored deep in the ground and older plants can also be transplanted.

Before you move the rhododendron, you have to cut out a large area of ​​the bush with the root system. To do this, proceed as follows:

  • dig diagonally into the ground around the shrub
  • dig earth
  • free ingrained roots
  • pull the shrub out of the ground
  • loosen up the root ball

The shrub should be transported to the new location as quickly as possible. Therefore, leave the bush in the pit after cutting it out until you can place the bush in the new, prepared hole.

If you want to move the shrub to another garden, you must keep the roots moist. To do this, wrap a linen cloth around the roots and moisten it if necessary. This will prevent the roots from drying out.

Tip: Use a ribbon to carefully tie the branches and twigs together at the top so they don’t get damaged when you dig them up. When tying up, be careful not to break any branches.

3rd step: The right distance

If the shrub has grown too large to have enough room to grow, you should also replant the rhododendron. If there are several rhododendron bushes next to each other, you should choose the right distance between the plants in the new location. This will prevent the bushes from interfering with growth.

The distance depends on the species and its expected planting height. The 1,000 species of the rhododendron family range in size from 15 cm to four metres. When choosing the distance, the growth for the next three to five years should also be taken into account. Depending on the species, the planting distance is between 30 and 100 cm.

4th step: move

The new planting hole should be about twice the diameter of the root ball. The depth of the pit corresponds to the height of the root ball. Then you can put the Alpenrose in it. Proceed as follows:

  • put in the planting hole
  • fill up with soil
  • straighten
  • spread the remaining soil around the trunk
  • Tread the earth lightly with your foot
Tip: Use a mixture of bark and leaf compost or a special rhododendron soil from the hardware store.

The bush should be placed higher in the hole. The root ball should look slightly above the ground. If this is placed deeper, it impairs the oxygen supply to the roots. This can lead to the death of the roots.

5th step: watering and fertilizing

After the rhododendron is in its new place, it should be watered thoroughly.

Tip: Use rainwater if possible. Water from the garden hose is too rich in lime for the shrub.

To start with, use horn shavings or an organic rhododendron fertilizer from the hardware store. Finally, you should cover the root area with about 5 cm of bark mulch.

Attention: One year after transplanting, no pruning should be done. A pruning may only take place when the roots are sufficiently anchored.

The rhododendron places high demands on the location. If the soil conditions do not meet the requirements, transplanting is necessary. The right time, good preparation and the choice of location are important. If you do the transplanting correctly, you can enjoy the blooming splendor of your rhododendron for many years to come.

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