Q: We have some scraggly forsythia bushes growing under the shade of a sweetgum tree. I’d like to replace them with a purple rhododendron.
A: Rhododendrons grow throughout the country but varieties of catawba rhododendron seem to do best in the South. Look for Rhododendron catawbiense in the name of the plant you select. ‘Purpureum Elegans’ has blue-purple flowers. By the way, I have discovered a simple method of planting rhododendrons called the “5-10-10-10-5 Method”
Spade up an area 5 feet in diameter, 10 inches deep. Add 10 gallons of soil conditioner and mix thoroughly, resulting in a mound 10 inches high.
Plant the rhododendron in the center and mulch with 5 gallons of mini bark chips. If you follow my “5-10-10-10-5″ method you’ll have great success with rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias.