The new Southgate Breeze Rhododendron (Rhododendron 'Janet Blair') from the Southern Living Plant Collection is exactly what the doctor ordered for gardeners in the deep south! It produces blush pink buds that open up to powder-white blossoms with berry red blotches in the center. These flowers are arranged in tight clusters that are easily visible from some distance away. They're a spring display that can't be ignored!
The leaves are dark green and elongated. They're a perfect backdrop for the stunning symphony of flowers that appear in spring. Furthermore, they're evergreen. So they won't leave your landscape bare in winter.
The growth rate of Southgate's is slow. Therefore, they're very easily maintained. At maturity, they reach an easily managed 4-5' H x 4-5' W.
Use them as specimens, accents in mixed garden beds, foundation plantings, in containers, or even as hedges.
Southgate Breeze Rhododendron Care
Hardy from USDA Zones 6-9. They're much more heat tolerant than traditional Rhododendrons while still remaining just as hardy in areas where they normally thrive.
Plant in Part Sun to Shade. 1-3 hours of direct sun or all-day filtered sun will produce the best results.
Water your new plantings 2-3 times per week during the first growing season. They may require more or less water depending on the weather.
Plant in slightly acidic soil with good drainage for best results.
Fertilize with a slow-release acidic plant fertilizer in early spring.
How to Plant:
First, determine your planting location based on the parameters listed above.
Next, dig a hole 3x as wide as the root ball of your plant.
The hole should only be so deep that your plant sits even with the ground around it. If you have poor drainage, try planting it so that it sits a few inches above the soil around it.
Mix your native soil with some good quality garden soil or composted manure to enrich your planting location and encourage root growth.
Compared to regular compost, composted manure doesn’t tend to raise soil pH as much. This is good for plants that like slightly acidic soil.
Backfill the hole with the soil mixture.
Now is a good time to mulch and fertilize your plant. Use a slow-release acid-loving plant fertilizer. If there is less than 2-months left before your first expected freeze of the year, use a rooting fertilizer to prevent foliage damage.
Mulch with 3-4 inches of bark mulch to help your plant retain moisture.
Water your new planting deeply afterward and then 2-3 times per week for the rest of the growing season depending on the weather in your area (more frequently in extreme heat/drought, less often during wet weather).
Spacing Your Plants
Plant Your Southgate Breeze Rhododendron 2.5-3 feet apart from plant center to plant center. Otherwise, space plants over 5 feet apart for space between plants.
Popular Companion Plants for the Southgate Breeze Rhododendron
Taller plants or trees that create shady spots next to them, such as privacy screens or hedges, create great planting locations for these Rhododendrons to be tucked into. The Empress of China Dogwood and Juniper Trees are two examples of these types of plants.