Do I need to plant this now?

farmingvillefarmer(East Coast zone 7)November 1, 2009

Hello I was in Home Depot the other day and they are selling shrubs and trees and 50% off on already marked down plants. I got this Rhododendron catawbiense English Roseum for 5 bucks in a 3 gallon bucket. Now my question is do I need to plant it now before frost arrives? Can I leave it in the bucket outside? Bring indoors? or can I place it in my small but heated greenhouse? The Greenhouse is small but I can keep the temps above freezing, I'd hate this option only because I'm on Long Island and electricity is very expensive. Thank you.

P.S. I also bought a Crapemyrtle an something called a Nandina Domestica, any info on these 2 would also be very appreciated.

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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

English Roseum is one of the best iron clads, meaning it is very hardy and tends to always look good 12 months of the year. The problem is whether it just came out of a greenhouse. If there aren't a lot of new young leaves, then leave it out. Any very small leaves that just came out will be frozen back this winter.

What I practice and what I preach are two different things. I would say it is best to plant it now. It must be in a VERY WELL DRAINED bed with acidic soil. The important thing is not digging the hole deeper, but digging it larger in diameter than the root ball. The roots spread out horizontally, not vertically. The root ball must not be planted deeper than it was originally, in fact it needs to be planted higher than it is in the pot. Mulch well after planting.

Having said that, I repot my plants into large pots in a protected area on the north side of my garage. My intent is to protect them from deer. When they get larger, they can tolerate deer, but the small plants are about a mouth full.

When I feel they are big enough I can wrap them in deer netting, then I plant them out. I must protect all my rhododendrons with deer netting. Deer have destroyed 3 acres of Christmas trees and are going after my shrubs.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to care for rhododendrons and azaleas.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2009 at 12:22PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

rhodyman, it's funny what deer will eat in different locations. I've watched them browse on my neighbors English laurel (which requires a lot of pruning to keep in control anyway) but I've never found deer damage on rhododendron in my garden or others.

One year only, a doe with fawn ate the smaller leaved azaleas...not weather related, there was nothing exceptional about the weather. The azaleas haven't been touched before or since that one season.

Home Depot shrubs are in an unheated space here - and we haven't had a first frost yet, none predicted in the next several days. I'd be planting that rhododendron but again, deer are not an issue.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2009 at 11:58PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Hi morz8. I never had a problem with deer on rhododendrons until the winters of '94 and '96, One winter we had a foot of snow every week for 6 weeks. The other winter we had 4' of snow in a couple days. The deer were starving. They ate anything that was green on our property except spruce and hellebores.

Now they selectively eat certain rhododendrons first and progress to others as the food supply dwindles during the winter. They measure the herd size here by the height of the browse line. When you look at plants, everything green below the browse line is eaten by spring. Shrubs look like tall green mushrooms or small trees with the bottoms naked and the foliage on top.

During '94 and '96 I lost 3 acres of Douglas Fir Christmas trees to the deer. The only ones that survived were the ones that were too tall to reach the top of. They buck-rubbed some of them, killing them also. They normally like to buck-rub the smaller ones since they bend more.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2009 at 4:57PM
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