Rhododendron was brought to the UK in the mid-1700s and planted in gardens, parks and estates. It was widely planted in Victorian hunting estates to provide cover for game species.
Yes the flowers are very attractive, particularly when faced with a huge mass of bushes all flowering at the same time. But apart from that short period Rhododendron has very little else to offer. It spreads relentlessly colonising and out competing other plants which reduces bio-diversity and prevents the growth of more beneficial species. The plant is also toxic if consumed and therefore tends not to be grazed unless there is no other forage available or animals are deliberately fed the leaves.
Rhododendron is an evergreen shrub and can characterised by
- dark green waxy leaves and large attractive flowers which blossom from May to June;
- The flowers can vary in colour from lilac pink to various light and dark shades of purple;
- Leaves are 6-8cm in length dark green on the tops of the leaves and slightly lighter underneath;
- The stems of mature Rhododendron can grow up to 8m in height;
- Rhododendron can spread both by the spread of seeds and vegetatively by a process called layering.
The reasons to do something about Rhododendron are fairly simple, it represents a risk to bio-diversity and you might be breaking the law by not controlling it. Visually it also radically changes the appearance of the landscape. Add to that the potential for a mature plant to dump a million seeds!
Treatment methods available include:
- Herbicide application, through spraying, stem injection or weed wiping
- Chainsaw clearance followed by an application of herbicide to the cut stump
- Manual clearance, effectively removing the bud bearing material
- Mechanical clearance, using a machine mounted flail
Everything you wanted to know about Rhododendron but were too afraid to ask
Although an attractive plant Rhododendron Ponticum is a major problem throughout the UK, especially when it can potentially be very costly to eradicate. This free guide will help educate identify, treat and address the importance of removing Rhododendron. Download it now for free!Free Download!
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