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Will Rhododendrons Grow In Clay Soil?

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Want to grow some rhododendrons but have clay soil? That will obviously leave you wondering whether rhododendrons will grow in clay soil. Well, let’s have a look and find out.

Will Rhododendrons Grow In Clay Soil?

No rhododendrons really don’t like clay soils and will not do well in them at all. In fact I would say more often than not they will simply die off.

Rhododendrons actually like acidic soil, which is normally formed by lots of peat in the soil, this leads to light well-draining soils, and this is what rhododendrons love.

If you want Rhododendrons but have clay soil then your best bet may be to build a raised border, you can then fill this with ericaceous compost which will give the rhododendrons the acidic soil they love.

There are a couple of ways you could do this and it doesn’t need to be a very formal raised bed from sleepers, although this is an option too.

Raised Beds
Raised Beds

Forgive my awful picture but this is to just give you an idea of what I mean, the raised beds don’t need to be straight and formal and made of sleepers.

They could be from round posts hammered into the ground and quite shallow, maybe in two levels like in my picture with your rhododendrons at the back on the highest level.

How To Improve Clay Soils

Everyone will always tell you to dig in some compost or add some sand or grit or maybe even a combination of these things and act like that will solve all your problems.

The simple answer is it won’t. If you have ever gardened on clay soil then you will know that digging anything into it is incredibly tough.

You cant simply add some compost and turn it over, you can’t easily mix anything into clay.

What does work is adding organic matter on top of clay, and either improving through the use of raised beds or just building the soil level up.

You essentially need to start gardening on a layer above the clay that is rich in organic matter and hummus, all of which you will need to provide.

If your soil isn’t too bad but maybe a little on the heavy side then you can add gravel to the bottom of planting holes to aid drainage, and this may be enough for you.

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