Rhododedrons and clay soil

Will rhododendrons and azaleas grow in clay soil?
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Not happily, they won't. Have you ever walked through the kind of forest where your feet sink 6" into the amazing leaf mold that lies on top of soil that's moist & fluffy? That's their favorite environment. Both things contribute to this - the leaf mold *and* the soil underneath, so just piling leaves on top of clay soil won't do the trick, at least not in the short term. If you want to grow these things, you'll need to improve the clay soil, which can take 2-3 years if you really work at it, or forever if you make a half-hearted effort.
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No, because clay soil does not drain. Rhododendrons and azaleas need three things, acidic soil, drainage and drainage. The normal remedy is to use a raised bed. Rhododendrons and azaleas have shallow roots, so the raised bed only needs to be 6 to 12 inches above grade. Create it by creating a mound or berm, or a raised planting bed using a retaining curb such as logs, timbers or rocks. It is best if the base is a material with good drainage like gravel. Then at least 6 of 8 inches of good acidic, well-drained soil above that. If you use a lot of peatmoss or compost remember, the peatmoss and compost will decompose over time to 12 the original depth, so make the bed proportionately deeper.
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wrote:

Some thought always needs to go into designing raised beds to keep the soil from washing away in hard rains.
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I have rhodo that does. But depends on how much clay you are talking about. Nothing will grow in pure clay but, yes in clayey soil.
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The clay is not a problem, but the poor drainage that it creates is a big problem. Very few plants will grow in pockets in clay soil that doesn't drain. They drown. Pond plants will do OK though. Most farm ponds are built with a clay lining. That is how good pure clay is at preventing water from penetrating. If you soil doesn't retain water like that, then it is not a pure clay soil.
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talking
a
farm
at
Sigh! Why is it that people don't seem to bother what was written but rather reply to what they fancy might have been written?
Not all soil that is a clay based soil will be pure clay and even if it is pure clay then the role of a gardener is to amend that pure clay so that it is no longer pure clay.
And in addition, one needs moisture to actually have a plant drown even in pure clay and that is a very rare commodity these days in half of the groups to which this question was origianally posted.
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Then I doubt they are growing rhododendrons since rhododendrons need moist well-drained soil. I never found a rhododendron growing in a desert or prairie.
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talking
soil.
is
that
Most
is
water
rhodo
half
Australia has had 5 years of continuous drought with about 98% of the country drought declared, but even then I am growing a rhodo in clayey soil. Hoses and even watering cans work quite well to supply water.
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Nick wrote:

In my childhood home (Perth hills) we grew masses of Camelias and Azalias in heavy clay soil. They thrived. Don't think we did Rhododendrons.
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I have had good luck with PJM Rhododendrons in less than ideal soil (poor drainage).

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