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Rhododendrons are shrubs with showy flowers in spring, usually in shade of white, pink, purple and red.  Some types of rhododendrons that lose their leaves in winter are commonly called azaleas. Relatively few rhododendrons are fully hardy in the Chicago area or can cope well with its alkaline soils. The hybrid Rhododendron ‘P.J.M’.  does very well in cold climates and is one of the hardier rhododendrons for the Chicago region. It is able to tolerate near neutral soils.

  • Family (English) Heath
  • Family (botanic) Ericaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Small shrub (3-5 feet), Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
  • Light exposure Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Chicago), Zone 6, Zone 7
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Season of interest mid spring, late spring
  • Flower color and fragrance Pink
  • Shape or form Mounded
  • Growth rate Fast

Size and form:

A hybrid evergreen rhododendron reaching 3 to 6 feet high and wide.

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife:  

Spring flowers attract butterflies including the giant swallowtail, pipevine swallowtail, and spicebush swallowtail.

Bark color and texture: 

Light straw-colored brown

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture: 

The leathery, evergreen leaves are smooth and dark green, changing to a purplish-red color in fall.  They are  1 to 2 1/2 inches long and elliptical.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Lavender-pink flowers bloom in clusters of 4-9 flowers in late spring.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

Plants set little or no seeds.

Plant care:

This rhododendron is best planted in spring.  It prefers a moist, acidic, organic-rich soil. It will tolerate a higher soil pH, but well-drained soil is a must.  Locate in part to full shade in a protected site out of winter winds.  Plants are shallow-rooted and will benefit from a layer of organic mulch to conserve moisture and moderate soil temperature fluctuations.  Water in dry periods.  Pruning is rarely needed, but faded flowers can be removed to improve appearance.  Avoid pruning after July when new buds are forming for next year’s flowers.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

Root rots and crown rots can occur in wet soil.  Black vine weevils are a potential problem.

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