FAQ

Frequently asked Questions

Question:

Why do you spray the bottoms of our shoes when we visit the nursery?

Answer:

Phytophthera ramorum is a root-rot disease that can infect many plants including rhododendrons. It has already killed many of the live oaks in the central valley of California and hence is known as “Sudden Oak Death” as well. USDA is very aware of this problem and goes to great lengths to control the spread of this disease. They have inspected us and found us free of “Sudden Oak Death” and have advised us to spray shoes with isopropyl alcohol as a deterrent.

CHIMACUM WOODS IS CERTIFIED FREE FROM PHYTOPHTERA RAMORUM AND WE WANT TO KEEP IT THAT WAY!!

Question:

Why are Chimacum Woods plants sold in nominal two-gallon size pots or larger?

Answer:

By having grown to this size, our plants are ready to plant in your garden and have a better chance of survival than smaller-sized plants. Because they have been grown from seed, our plants are at least five years old — or older! Plant hardiness and vigor seem to increase with age.

Chimacum Woods plants are ready to enhance your garden TODAY and will give you pleasure for years to come.

Question:

We’re relatively new homeowners and not so experienced with the plants.
The tag on your plant says to fertilize. Can you recommend with exactly what to fertilize and how often?

Answer:

Around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, use any fertilizer labeled specifically for rhododendrons. Follow instructions on the package, sprinkling it out at the drip line (the outer circle made by the branches). Don’t pile it around the trunk. If not sure how much, give less rather than more. Rhody roots are at the surface and can burn if you pile the fertilizer on. Don’t work the fertilizer in to the soil, because you will chop up the fine roots on the surface.

Question:

How often is “gentle watering”? I’m not sure exactly what that means.

Answer:

Gentle watering means: rhodies prefer to stay moist but they don’t want to drown. So more frequent (daily if needed in the summer) light watering is better than once-a-week flooding. You will know the plant needs water if the leaves are drooping. If your plant is in a container, don’t water-log it.

Also, be sure your plant is in an area that drains (e.g. not sitting on a bed of hard clay that would trap the water around the roots). For the first year, make sure that the root ball is actually getting wet. Check by sticking your finger gently into the root ball area. If you are just transplanting a plant, it will take a little time to expand its roots into your soil, but right now all it has is what came out of the pot.

Question:

We heard that summer is not the best time to plant rhodies. If so, do we just leave them in their pots until September or so?

Answer:

Rhodies from containers can be planted any time of the year. So this is a fine time to plant them and they will be happier out of the pots than in them. You simply have to pay a bit more attention to watering through the summer months, whereas if you plant in the fall, Mother Nature most likely will do the watering for you. But, go ahead and plant yours now!

Question:

Is it ok if we plant them in an area that DOES get direct sunlight (well, over the summer anyway, this is Seattle)? Or should we try to put them under eaves, or something like that?

Answer:

Rhodies will take a fair amount of direct sun here in the Northwest. The basic principle is not to cook them. If their leaves start to sunburn, you can seek more shade. The toughest sun is full, direct sun from noon to 5 p.m.

Putting them under the eaves is not the best idea, because if they are a large species, they will get too big too close to your house.

Question:

Is it OK to plant them under a tree?

Answer:

Ours thrive under a woodland canopy and it’s inevitable that they will end up next to trees whose roots extend into the rhodie area. Rhodies are quite social and play well with others. In the wild they often grow among the trees. Many of our rhodies are doing well in the full sun, so it’s important to know the likes of your species. Remember that rhodies are easily moved, even when they get bigger, because their roots are fairly shallow. So, if your plant is not happy, you can move it.

Question:

Is there a book you’d particularly recommend we read? We’d be happy to buy a book, but there are so many rhody books out there!

Answer:

You might try a book recommended by the American Rhododendron Society (ARS), whose website is www.rhododendron.org

Question:

Are there garden clubs specifically for rhododendrons?

Answer:

The American Rhododendron Society (ARS) has chapters in many locations in the US and in Europe. Check out their website (www.rhododendron.org) and think about attending a meeting. You will meet interesting people with questions and answers much like yours. Membership also includes a subscription to their quarterly Journal. This publication offers a wide range of articles covering all aspects of the genus Rhododendron.