Azaleas and Rhododendrons are the jewels of the late spring garden. Rhododendrons and evergreen azaleas provide interest all year round, while deciduous azaleas produce excellent autumn leaf colours. There are literally thousands of species and varieties and a huge range of flower colours. Their exquisite blooms bring notes of exotic colour to pots and containers, beds and borders and lightly shaded areas under trees. Some are compact enough for the smallest gardens, others require the space of a woodland where they can reach massive proportions.
What’s the difference between Azaleas and Rhododendrons?
• Includes one each of Lilac, Red, Pink, White and Orange.
• Compact, small leaf Japanese Azaleas
• Masses of brightly coloured blooms
• Small, dark green foliage
• Perfect for patio pots or borders.
Planting time: October – March/April 📆
Location: Full sun/Partial shade 🏡
Flowering Time: April – July 🌸
Rhododendrons and Azaleas prefer well drained and light/acidic soil. Before planting, dig-in plenty of neutral or acidic organic matter (composted tree bark, leafmould, decomposing pine or spruce needles), and mix in well with the soil. Do not plant too deeply; all rhododendrons are surface-rooting and the roots should be just covered. Apply at least an 8cm (3 inch) mulch of chipped conifer bark or another acidic material. The mulch should be well-aerated, not firmed down.
Here are some handy aftercare tips to get the best performance out of your Rhododendron and Azaleas.
Evergreens add constant interest to the garden and can act often as a central focus point to build a garden around. Evergreen shrubs and plants hold their foliage all year around, which is why they are the perfect choice for low maintenance gardening. Since April is the best time of year to plant evergreens and there are many to choose from, we’ve picked out a selection of varieties so you are guaranteed to find one that suits you.
There are many benefits to having evergreens in the garden other than their beauty. Here are some of the overlooked benefits:
Energy Saving 💡
Shrubs planted on the north side of your home can serve as a protective windbreaker during the harsh winter winds.
Shrubs provide much-needed shelter for birds and their many pretty blooms are great for attracting butterflies too.
Since they keep their leaves all year-round, they can provide privacy to your garden and work as a natural fence.
So, without further ado, here are our top 10 picks for beautiful evergreen shrubs to plant this spring! 🏡
Nothing is more beautiful than an Azalea shrub in spring bloom. These easy-care shrubs flower in spring each year and are an excellent way of introducing colour to the garden and with a rainbow of shades to choose from, you are certain to find the right Azalea to suit your needs.
This mixture of premium Japanese Diamond Azaleas are ideal for creating a colourful and effective spring display. These dwarf growing varieties make a real impact and are very easy to grow. These versatile plants are perfect for the patio pot, container or border. Supplied as 9cm pot plants.
These beautiful Japanese Azaleas are a real treat in the garden. These shrubs form a large bushy yet compact shape. The attractive evergreen leaves bring all round interest with the added attraction of the flowers which burst into a riot of bright red funnel shaped blooms in spring. Supplied as 2 litre pot plants.
Rhododendron Midnight Mystique is a striking shrub which produces one of the showiest flowers of any Rhododendron. Wavy edged, white flowers boast huge, raspberry red-purple margins, with matching speckles in the throat, accompanied by a flash of gold speckles too. Each truss rests on shiny oval shaped foliage. Supplied in 13cm pot.
The semi-dwarf Rhododendron gives the benefit of having traditional giant flowers but only growing to a height of 1 meter. Rhododendron Percy Wiseman produces clustered blooms that showcase an array of beautiful pink, red and yellow shades. Supplied in a 13cm pot.
Originally found in China, Clematis armandii is one of the most vigorous evergreen climbers around. It produces plenty of long, lance-shaped waxy leaves which will provide a year round protective screen against stark walls or fences. The real highlight of this plant is the abundance of strong scented, star shaped white flowers in early spring. Supplied as 9cm pot plants.
Clematis armandii Apple Blossom is one of the most popular evergreen climbers. It produces an abundance of baby pink buds with deeper pink flushes, which open out to four or five petalled baby pink flowers in spring. You can enjoy the gorgeous almond scent when planted by a doorway or seating area. Supplied as 9cm pot plants.
This superb RHS Garden Merit Award Winner, Daphne Tangutica is guaranteed to brighten up any garden. A medium-sized evergreen shrub, Daphne Tangutica produces beautifully fragrant white/pink flowers from late spring into early summer. Supplied as a 9cm pot plant.
Daphne transatlantica Eternal Fragrance is a semi-evergreen variety, producing sweet scented, tubular star-shaped flowers in creamy white with pink flushes at the base of each flower. This non-stop flowering shrub offers an astounding three seasons of bloom to delight the senses: spring (April), summer (June-July) and early autumn (late August/September). 10.5cm pot grown plants supplied.
Euonymus ‘Goldy‘ is a fantastic dwarf evergreen shrub that will really brighten up any border or patio display. They have a compact growing habit and produce dense foliage that starts off as green but quickly changes to a bright golden yellow in summer. Supplied as a 9cm pot grown plant.
The evergreen foliage of this Euonymus variety produces leaves in lovely creamy white tones with irregular markings, often on the edges of leaves of dark green. Their pleasing colour is a true showstopper, especially in winter. They also make perfect ground cover for livening up a border, rockery or container. 15cm plant in 9cm pot supplied.
Gardenia jasminoides ‘Kleim’s Hardy’ is the original frost hardy evergreen Gardenia. Their highly fragrant single white flowers are produced throughout the summer. Growing to just 80cm, this compact shrub is ideally suited to a patio pot or a sheltered border. 13cm pot grown plants supplied.
This sensation dwarf shrub has enjoyed immense popularity in recent years and it’s easy to see why. The glossy forest green leaves provide a dramatic backdrop to the fragrant, pearly white star shaped double flowers that bloom in abundance from early summer right through to the autumn. 9cm pot plants supplied.
Lavender Kew Red (French Lavender) is an elegant and exquisite plant with pretty deep crimson pink flowers topped with a delicate pale pink. Along with their highly aromatic foliage, they flower from late spring onwards and are a great way to attract bees and butterflies to the garden. UK-grown 3cm diameter jumbo plug plants supplied.
Also known as French Lavender, this pretty evergreen plant produces dark purple and lilac coloured blooms with highly aromatic, evergreen foliage. These beautiful flower spikes are great for creating a wildlife haven in the garden as they attract butterflies and bees from late spring. UK-grown 3cm diameter jumbo plug plants supplied.
This low-growing, compact, evergreen shrub boasts gorgeous variegated, grey-green foliage with cream margins. The margins transform from magenta pink in winter to a delicate mauve in summer, which then fade to white. This low maintenance shrub with constantly transforming beauty is perfect for borders. 9cm pot grown plants supplied.
Hebe Wild Romance is a bushy, compact evergreen shrub . Dense purple flowers appear in summer that turn in to a deep pink/maroon in winter and lightens in the spring. The vibrant foliage of this Hebe is perfect for adding interest to the garden in borders and patio displays all year-round. 9cm pot grown plants supplied.
This beautiful and unusual Euphorbia is guaranteed to be a unique showstopper in the spring. This dwarf evergreen perennial has striking lime green flowers contrast against the dark maroon foliage, which is ideal for adding colour to the garden border or patio container. 9cm pot grown plants supplied.
This fantastic evergreen shrub produces wonderful evergreen foliage through winter with flowers blooming from spring in to summer. Their hardy bracts are a vivid lime green with a bright red eye and two white ‘tear drop’ shapes in the centre. This stunning shrub is perfect for brightening up the garden. Supplied in 9cm pots
The Skimmia Japonica is a dwarf evergreen shrub. Our ‘Red Dwarf’ flowers from spring into summer and produces an abundance of red buds against a vibrant green foliage. They are hardy shrubs which perform exceptionally well when planted in the border or in a patio container. Supplied in 9.5cm pots.
Skimmia japonica White Dwarf is a fairly compact evergreen shrub that produces a flurry of bright green buds on top of a darker green foliage. Their hardiness allow them to perform well in a variety of places in the garden, from garden borders to patio pots. Supplied in 9.5cm pots.
There is a garden philosophy: If you like it, it’s a flower; if you don’t, it’s a weed. It’s hard to have compassion for weeds, but they’re just plants growing in places where they’re not wanted. One approach is to pull the weeds out by hand but why not try a completely different approach? A thick mass planting of ground cover plants can control weeds by keeping the direct sunlight off the soil, which can cause weeds to germinate and can compete with the weeds for water and nutrients.
Here’s a guide to identifying the garden enemies in your garden.
Some are annuals and have a one-year life cycle that ends with them setting seeds for the next generation.
Others are perennials, like dandelions (having a lifecycle longer than one year). You may need to eradicate the main root of these to remove them.
Ground Cover for Full Sun
In full sun, the following ground cover plants are fantastic choices for beautiful and efficient sunny borders.
This beautiful hardy and versatile plant forms spreading clumps of colour through late-spring and are perfect for ground cover planting. They love full sun and is tough enough to suppress weeds and thrive even in the poorest of soils.
The large and vivid blue bell-shaped flowers of this plant are certain to make a lasting impact as ground cover. With its reliability, stability of colour and long spreading foliage, this plant is the perfect partner for suppressing weeds in your garden whilst providing lasting beauty throughout summer.
This plant is a heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant ground cover option. This Thyme variety adds an attractive mat of leaves with highly fragrant pink/mauve flowers in the summer. They are great for planting in crevices as they are great for choking out weeds.
For erosion control, few ground covers work better than this creeping perennial. They’re drought-resistant, not picky about soil quality and love full sun. Carpet your garden in the rich colour of Phlox Candy Stripe to attract butterflies and keep the weeds at bay.
Our superb mixture of summer flowering Heather will provide a carpet of vibrant colour in a ground cover display. Not only do they brighten up otherwise dull areas, they can be planted in partial shade areas and also work to suppress weeds
Ground Cover for Partial Shade
For a slightly shady area of the garden, try these:
This excellent ground cover plant offers a mound of silvery-green foliage beneath an abundance of dainty pink flowers. This sprawling perennial is a great summer flowering plant to suppress pesky weeds, and can also be planted in rockeries and dry stone walls.
Also known as ‘Dragon’s Blood’ Sedum, this variety may be the hardiest and most versatile of all weed-suppressing ground covers. Their trailing stems root easily and do well in places where little else will grow. This year round beauty provides bright green fleshy leaves with star-shaped pink flowers in summer.
With this plant’s reliability, stability of colour and resistance to pests and diseases, it has earned the RHS Award of Garden Merit. Their masses of star-shaped blue and violet flowers will bloom into late August and are very useful in the ground where the spreading foliage will produce a blanket of weed suppressing ground cover.
Ajuga keeps weeds out by creeping over the surface of the soil, putting down roots as it goes, and all the leaves knit together to leave not a millimeter of soil into which a weed can wheedle. Also, their vibrant green and purple foliage with white edging are perfect for colourful ground cover.
Originating from Turkey and Bulgaria, Rose of Sharon is one of the best ground cover options. Not only are their yellow star-shaped flowering popular with bees, their shrubby low-growing habit is extremely valuable for smothering those unwanted pesky garden weeds.
This magnificent evergreen shrub produces vivid red foliage on long slender leaves that have a unique metallic glimmer. They form in to a dense dome of foliage making them excellent ground cover to suppress weeds. Also, they look fantastic planted in pots/containers.
This amazing Hosta sprouts large pure white leaves in late spring/early summer that develop green streaks as the season progresses. Perfectly happy in shade, when paired with other Hostas, these plants knit together seamlessly to create a blanket of efficient weed suppression.
After you’ve picked your ground cover plants, it’s time to get in the garden!
To help you plant your ground cover this spring, here is our handy step-by-step tutorial, so that you can get the best performance and results from your garden this summer.
Which plants work the best for weed control?
Dense evergreen varieties are the best option if your main aim is to suppress weeds.
What do i need to do to prepare for planting?
Be sure to fully eradicate all existing weeds before you plant, especially perennials such as dandelions, as they will become near impossible to remove once your ground cover is planted.
Will the ground cover kill my other plants?
Place decorative rocks or stepping stones between ground cover and perennials to maintain a barrier for spreading stolons, or above ground perennials.
When planting more than one ground cover variety, spread mulch between the plants to conserve soil moisture and reduce unwanted plant growth.
What aftercare is required for ground cover?
Spread netting or old sheets over ground covers during autumn leaf drop. It can be difficult to rake leaves out of thick ground covers, and allowing the leaves to sit can create unhealthy conditions.
The stunning flowers of the Rhododendron have earned them a legion of fans, and quite right too! Some varieties of full size Rhododendrons will simply keep growing until they grow into giant trees, although you can prune them down, these larger varieties may not be an option in your garden.
This month we’re taking a look at some stunning dwarf varieties. The compact growth habit of these shrubs give them an outstanding formal appearance, making them ideal for small city gardens or courtyards where space is at a premium. They’re even small enough to slot nicely beneath taller shrubs in the border, or grow nicely in a rock garden.
Prepare the ground by digging in plenty of compost, neutral or acidic organic matter, or leafmold etc. Plant so the roots are covered, not too deep and apply a good layer of mulch lightly over the surface, don’t pack it down. Re-mulch and feed with an ericaceous fertiliser each spring.
Ericaceous fertiliser? This is for plants that are not as happy in limey soils. It’s a lime-free acidic compost that was habitually made with peat – however as awareness that adding peat to soils is bad for the environment you can now easily find peat free varieties to buy.
Dwarf varieties can cope with positioning in full sun but need evenly moist, well drained soils so keep on top of watering them in the hottest part of summer. Rhododendrons like lots of water and use rain-water if you can – you should particularly avoid tap-water if you live in a hard water area. As with larger Rhododendrons they won’t do at all well subjected to frost so take care to protect them and avoid areas you know are prone to it in your garden.
In truth not very much! Azaleas are a group within the Rhododendron family and they have some small differences. Rhododendrons will have ten or more stamens, while an Azalea will usually have five stamens. Rhododendrons have larger leaves and they will be paddle-shaped, Azalea have smaller, elliptical leaves. Also Rhododendrons are evergreen, whereas Azaleas can be evergreen or deciduous.