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Rhododendron Control

What is Rhododendron Control?

Rhododendron ponticum (L) is a non-indigenous evergreen shrub belonging to the Ericaceae family. Introduced in the 18th century, it is an attractive dark green leaved shrub with showy trusses of flowers. It was used as a cultivated flowering plant in gardens, parks and estates as a horticultural exhibit. It was also extensively planted in western Victorian hunting Estates under woodland canopies and on heathland areas to provide shelter for game species.

Rhododendron ponticum grows particularly well in the climate and soils of the British Isles, showing a preference for acidic soils in areas of high humidity, a combination found predominantly on the west of Britain and Ireland. It is an evergreen shrub or small tree growing up to 8m tall. It has flowers that appear around May – June.

Although it possesses attractive flowers it has few attributes that offset the negative impact it can have on an invaded site, for example, a reduced number of earthworms, birds and plants and regenerative capacity of a site, leading to a reduction in the biodiversity of the area. Physical access to a site can be reduced due to the density and size of mature bushes and management cost then rise as the bushes need to be treated prior to other activities being carried out.

Control Options

The choice of control/eradication method of Rhododendron ponticum can influence the recovery of a site.  All plants need to be physically cleared by hand or by machinery. The strategy will often be dependent on the topography. Plants can be found in hard to reach craggy areas that are in accessible to heavy machinery an element of intensive labour may then be required.

Plants need to be cleared down to ground level, stumps treated appropriately, debris chipped or burnt and small growth chemically treated.

On some sites it is feasible to implement a chemical control programme. Herbicides are applied to all plants below 1.3m in height.  Injecting herbicide directly into the stems of larger plants results in the death within six months, allowing dead material to be removed more easily. Where there is no access to treat the stems, an overall foliar spray is the next option.

We have an experienced team of professionals who will help you consider your options and give you advice. Please contact us for information and a no-obligation quote.