Soil: moist, well-drained, humus-rich, acid soil or ericaceous compost
Rate of growth: fast-growing
Flowering period: February and March
Hardiness: fully hardy
Masses of funnel-shaped, pinkish-purple flowers appear in late-winter and early spring, shown off to great effect against the backdrop of small, dark green leaves. This early flowering, (mainly) evergreen rhododendron will make a fabulous informal hedge, but it is also pretty enough to use as a stand alone specimen. One of the first rhododendrons into bloom each year, it is also one of the best for a sunny spot.
Garden care: Avoid planting too deeply. Apply a generous 5-7cm (2-3in) mulch of leaf mould around the base of the plant each spring. To maintain a dense habit, prune it hard every two or three years. Please note that as a semi-evergreen variety, 'Praecox' may lose some or all of its leaves in a hard winter and in cold weather the more exposed leaves will often become spotty in response to the colder temperatures.