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I have a huge rhododendron running down the whole of the side of my garden. The border is in sun for most of the day. I want to deepen the border and plant some flowers and shrubs for colour. Will this work? What will do well? I love dahlias, delphiniums etc but would these work?

Nothing will grow under rhododendrons. Are you thinking of planting in front of the rhodos instead? You can prune back the rhodos very severely to free up some more space. Do you know which rhododendron you have?


Steephill  is right. Rhodes leaves contain a substance that inhibits growth of nearby plants.


That is why they are so successful at overrunning the countryside - and your border!

Containers in front of it might be an answer, but as the others say, nothing will grow at its feet. 

Alina W

Agree with what's been said, although you might have a chance with deeply-planted daffodils.


Amanda, can you post a picture?

If you plan to plant in front......not necessarily underneath.....your rhododendron there are possibilities.  You mentioned deepening the border so it suggests you want to use a freshly dug peace of ground there.  I would dig over the area in front of your rhodo, clip back some of it as suggested if necessary, and consider exactly what you want to plant there.....I.e. perennials liking acid soil, shrubs even grasses .  

Hi thanks all. I have taken a photo but can't find anywhere on here that would enable me to upload it.
I do want to create a border in front of the rhododendrons. I don't know the type, but I live near the New Forest and it is the common purple one. Any advice on soil prep and whatever flowers and shrubs would work would be great. Reds and purples ideally. Thanks!


I would add compost to improve your soil,but not add lime.  Dahlias, lupins, delphiniums, and lots of perennials and shrubs would grow there.  Camelias,, dwarf rhododendrons,,azaleas,,kalmias, pieris too.  Some choice ferns as well.  


The common purple one is Rhododendron ponticum and is a real thug.  You can cut it back as hard as you like (it'll look awful for a bit, but it'll recover - they're hard to kill!).  If you don't cut it back it could take over your garden...

If you have the heart to how about removing the rhododendron and replacing it with a nice new border?

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