Rhododendron 'Dame Edith Sitwell'

Rhododendron 'Dame Edith Sitwell'


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Flowering Month:
Flower Colour:
To -10 °C
Height After 10 Years:
Interesting Foliage:
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3 litre
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(MADDENIA H4) Lily-shaped fragrant white flowers, tinged pink, with yellowish centre. Beautiful in April-May. Height 75-100cm in 10 years. Thought to be a selection of R. lindleyi, R. Dame Edith Sitwell is a plant for very sheltered gardens, or cool conservatories where its scent will fill the air. Needs a well drained compost. Hard prune straight after flowering to maintain shape and prevent legginess.

It is named after the eccentic poet and author Dame Edith Sitwell (d.1964) originally from Renishaw Hall, Derbyshire, (who apparently used to lay in an open coffin before starting her writing!).

  •  Recommended for the cool greenhouse and its lovely scented flowers.
  •  Ideal position: sheltered garden or cool conservatory. Prefers to be grown outside during summer months.
  •  Habit: Can be straggly unless pruned.
  •  Group: Tender Rhododendron.
  •  Raised by: Geoffrey Gorer. Origin: British.
  •  Introduction date: 1965
  •  Ideal soil: pH 4.5 to 6.
  •  RHS Hardiness Rating: H4.
  •  Awards: RHS Award of Merit 1965

Good to know

Tender (maddenia) Rhododendrons are suitable for the cold greenhouse and mild areas such as Cornwall where they can be grown outdoors. Elsewhere in sheltered gardens they are worth trying against a South facing wall if temperatures are unlikely to go below -5°C. They give a magnificent display in spring, and the pinks and whites often have gorgeous scent to fill a conservatory. Many of these rhododendrons are epiphytic, meaning that they naturally grow in the boughs of forest trees and rock crevasses. Hence they often grow and flower better when their roots are constrained in a relatively small pot, and they need a very free draining (orchid type) compost, with just a teaspoon of slow release fertilizer.

When grown in a conservatory, these plants grow vigorously, so prune hard straight after flowering to encourage bushiness, leaving only about 10cm of the previous year's growth. They much prefer to be grown outside during summer months where there is fresh air and rainfall, so try to move out in May and back indoors in October. Heating is not needed in the UK, and plants can be easily scorched if placed too close to radiators or heaters.

Please note:Watch out for sooty mould on plants grown under protection (see advice centre for further information).

For further advice, For further advice, see here

The Basics

Ideal soil

Acidic soil, good organic content, pH 4.5-6.0. Inkarho range of rhododendrons will tolerate soils up to pH7.5

Sun or Shade

Light dappled shade is best for most varieties.


Refer to hardiness rating. Give young plants protection.

Site Selection

Avoid close to trees, roots, invasive weeds, walls, hot patios, dry banks and waterlogged soils. Do not use weed matting or stone mulch.

Plant spacing

Use the height shown in 10 years as a guide to the distance between each plant. Allow room for plant to fill out. If planting closer for instant impact, be prepared to move plants after a few years.


  • 3 litre pot, dig in 10-20 litres of ericaceous compost.
  • 7.5 litre pot, dig in 20-30 litres of ericaceous compost.
  • 70-80cm specimen, dig in 60 litres of ericaceous compost.
  • 100-120cm specimen, dig in 120 litres of ericaceous compost.

Planting depth

Plant high in the ground, with the top of the rootball visible.


Slow-release ericaceous feed recommended in March and straight after flowering.


Recommended every few years.


The key ingredient! Keep moist all season, especially the critical time at end of June for flower bud initiation. Tap water is better than no water. Heavy dose at least once per week in dry weather.


Ensure good drainage in winter, especially with yellow flowering varieties. Avoid waterlogged sites.


Rhododendrons and Camellias: Not normally required. Tidy wayward shoots after flowering.

Evergreen azaleas and Bloombux can be clipped into a low hedge.

Magnolias and Acers: Formative pruning when young to shape into a tree or bush.


Remove old flower-heads, particularly on young or weak plants.

For further advice see here

Size Guide

Size guide

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