Has anyone in this area (I'm close...eastern Ne) had success with growing mountain laurel? I think it is pretty but haven't seen it in this area of the country. Maybe it doesn't do well in our clay soils?
It doesn't like our alkaline soils, our hot dry summers and our sub-zero winters; other than that mountain laurel would like it here. I've kept one going for a few years on a couple of occasions, but without a lot of work in protecting them in the winter, the evergreen foliage ends up so ratty looking, that they are not an asset to the garden, in my experience. I think the winter sun and wind are the worst threat to them. Some of the hardier lepidote rhodys are just as attractive, and a lot easier to grow.
Shucks. My rhody died. If I can't keep it alive I don't suppose I'd keep a mountain laurel.
There are some small-leaved (lepidote) rhodys you have to work at to kill. the big-leaved rhodys(elepidotes) I can kill without working up a sweat.
Where do you find this type rhody? I can't find any on the nursery sites I've been looking at...forest farm, lazyss, bluestone.
Rarefind Nursery has a nice selection; I'm probably growing about thirty different lepidotes here in 5a eastern Iowa and half of them are from Rarefind. You will want to dig out your native soil and replace it with a nice, loose mix of peat, topsoil, and a little sand (adding some composted conifer mulch really helps if you've got it and raised beds are helpful if drainage is poor). Since they are basically evergreen some degree of protection from winter sun is usually necessary (like north or east side of house). The old standby, PJM is usually available locally, and cheap. If you don't grow it already, try it first... it takes sun better, and is just about hard to kill.