25 April 2012

Lendonwood Gardens - How to Grow Rhododendrons


Some of the Rhododendrons at Lendonwood Gardens in Grove have already bloomed but
many are still in flower as are a hundred other shrubs, trees and perennials.

Dr. Len Miller
Last week, Lendonwood’s founder Len Miller led a tour during which he pointed out many of the best plants and a few that are difficult to grow here.

The plants Miller highlighted on the tour included:
Japanese Birch (hard to grow),
Japanese Maple (fast growing and makes lots of seedlings),
Dawn Redwood (fast growing),
Variegated elm (full sun, beautiful leaves),
Bloodgood Maple (red seed pods),
Styrax Japonica (white flowers),
Weeping Katsura Magnifica
(heart-shaped leaves on weeping branches),
Japanese Variegated Dogwood (tough to grow),
Rising Sun Redbud (will be available from Greenleaf Nursery this fall),
Cherokee Sunset Dogwood (variegated leaves and pink flowers), and
Cornus Kousa Wolf Eyes (The best dogwood with white rimmed leaves and white flowers).

A walk through Lendonwood Gardens includes touring many garden rooms: Display Garden, Oriental, Japanese, English Terrace, American Backyard, Angel of Hope and Azalea.


Cindy Reynolds - Lead volunteer, head gardener
 In the American Backyard Garden there are dozens of Knock Out and Double Knock Out Roses. Miller said, “We wanted to show gardeners that they could grow beautiful gardens without irrigation, pesticides, fertilizers or chemicals of any kind.”

Lendonwood boasts the country’s largest collection of false cypress, 500 daylily varieties, 125 hosta varieties, 75-Japanese Maple species, 25-dogwood species,

The 300-varieties of Rhododendrons in Lendonwood are members of the Heath plant family, closely related to Azaleas. They come in a wide range of colors and
want the same shady spot and acidic soil.

Miller is the past president of the American Rhododendron Society (Ozarks Rhododendron
Society http://www.ozarkars.com). He said that to grow rhododendrons in OK, all
their native growing conditions have to be met, including acid soil (pH of 5.5

Larry Ahrens, Dr. Len Miller, Dr. Gerald Klingaman
to 6.5), moisture, drainage and protection from wind and hot sun.
"Their natural growing location is on the northern slope of a
mountain," Miller said. "They have to be well protected in Oklahoma in order to be successful. They grow well here tucked under trees where they receive a maximum of 2-hours of morning sun and no afternoon sun, ever.”

"Go out at 4:00 in the afternoon on a summer day to make sure the locationreceives no direct sun between 3 and 7," Miller said.

The soil has to be kept moist all year and plants should be well mulched with pine bark mulch, not peat moss.

Water rhododendrons when they are flowering, after flowering, during dry periods and late fall before the first freeze. Long, dry spells will require a soaker hose to get the moisture 8-inches deep.

Miller said, "I add sulphur at the rate of 1-pound per 100-square feet to acidify it. A cup of sulphur sprinkled on the ground (not dug in) around each plant will do it.
Miller said that rhododendrons have fibrous surface roots that are damaged by any digging around them. All of the plants' roots are in the top 6 to 8-inches of soil.

To plant a new shrub, dig a hole 5-feet wide and 8-inches deep. Mix 6-cubic feet of pine mulch with the soil removed from the planting hole. Fill the hole and pile the pine-bark soil to make a raised planting area.

Remove the plant from the pot and cut the root ball in half. Spread the roots, butterfly fashion. Plant the shrub above the soil level on 3 to 4-inches of pine-soil. It is a good idea to score and tease out the roots before planting.

If You Go
Lendonwood Gardens1308 West 13th Street (Har-Ber Road), Grove
Open every day from dusk to dawn. Adults $5 donation.
Information www.lendonwood.com and 918-786-2938 or 918-786-8375

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