I constantly keep my eye on the latest research and test it out myself in the garden back at the nursery to make sure you get the very best advice on how to plant successfully.
1. Decide where you want to plant and remove any weeds growing in the area.
2. Water your plant well in its pot before planting. Letting it sit in a bucket of water until it is well soaked is very effective.
3. Dig a hole twice as deep and three times as wide as the root ball (this is the compost around the roots of the plant) in the pot and then loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole to improve the drainage. Don't skimp on this stage as it is crucial to your plant's quick establishment in the garden and its ongoing success over the years.
4. Mix the soil 50:50 with a good quality John Innes Ericaceous Compost and any leaf mould, pine needles or garden compost you have. If you can 50:50 John Innes Ericaceous and garden soil will give you the very best results.
5. Refill the bottom of the hole so that the soil is at the depth of slightly less than the root ball of the plant.
6. Take the pot off your plant and place your plant in the hole and adjust the level so that the top of the root ball is 2cm above ground level so that the root ball looks slightly raised. Rhododendron dislike being planted too deeply.
7. Backfill (this is putting the compost back in around the roots) the hole with the mixed compost up to the level of the soil and gently firm with your hands. The root ball should now be 2cm proud of ground level.
8. Now add a 4-5cm deep pine bark mulch to the soil and 2-3cm over the top of the root ball to bring it level again. Leave a small gap clear around the bottom of the stem. Mulching is important as it keeps the roots cool, aerates (keep vital air in) the soil, keep moisture in the soil, reduces weed growth and gives a lovely smart finish.
9 Water the plant well to settle the compost round the roots and give it a good start. Water regularly during the first few months and in dry spells in the first few years until established. Keep topping up the pine bark mulch as and when required.
10. Take a picture of your newly planted rhododendron to look back on in later years to enjoy seeing how well it has grown. Remember if you have any other questions you can ask me here.