Rhododendron shrubs provide your garden with bright spring flowers as long as you site the shrubs in an appropriate location in an appropriate hardiness zone. Those who live in cooler regions need to select hardy rhododendron varieties to be sure the bushes make it through the winter. For tips on planting rhododendrons in zone 5, as well as a list of good zone 5 rhododendrons, read on.
How to Grow Rhododendrons for Zone 5
When you are planting rhododendrons in zone 5, you need to recognize that rhododendrons have very specific growing requirements. If you want your shrubs to thrive, you need to take their sun and soil preferences into account. Rhododendrons are called the queens of the shade garden for good reason. They are flowering shrubs that require a shady location to grow happily. When you are planting rhododendrons in zone 5, partial shade is fine, and full shade is also possible. Zone 5 rhododendrons are also particular about soil. They need moist, well-drained, acidic soils. Hardy rhododendron varieties prefer soil fairly high in organic matter and porous media. It’s wise to mix in topsoil, peat moss, compost, or sand before planting.
Hardy Rhododendron Varieties
If you live in a region classified as zone 5, your winter temperatures can dip well below zero. That means that you’ll need to select rhododendrons for zone 5 that can survive. Fortunately, the Rhododendron genus is very large, with 800 to 1000 different species-- including the entire azalea clan. You’ll find quite a few hardy rhododendron varieties that will do well as rhododendrons for zone 5. In fact, most rhododendrons thrive in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8. If you are pining for azaleas, you’ll have to be a little more selective. Some thrive down to zone 3, but many don’t grow well in such cold regions. Avoid species that are borderline hardy in favor of plants hardy to zone 4 if possible. You find some top choices for zone 5 rhododendrons in the Northern Lights Series of hybrid azaleas. These plants were developed and released by the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Northern Lights rhododendrons are not just borderline zone 5 rhododendrons. They are hardy in regions where temperatures drop to -30 degrees to -45 degrees F. (-34 to -43 C.). Take blossom color into account when you are picking zone 5 rhododendrons from the Northern Lights series. If you want pink flowers, consider "Pink Lights" for pale pink or “Rosy Lights” for deeper pink. Rhododendron "White Lights" produce pink buds that open to white flowers. For unusual salmon-colored flowers, try "Spicy Lights," a shrub that grows to 6 feet (2 m.) tall with an 8 foot (2 m.) spread. "Orchid Lights" are zone 5 rhododendrons that grow to 3 feet (1 m.) tall with ivory-colored flowers. While Northern Lights are reliable as zone 5 rhododendrons, your selection is not limited to this series. A variety of other zone 5 rhododendrons are available.
Gardening tips, videos, info and more delivered right to your inbox!
Sign up for the Gardening Know How newsletter today and receive a free download of our most popular eBook "How to Grow Delicious Tomatoes."
Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.