This is always the first of my rhodies to bloom. The leaves used to be bi-color also, but they are now ‘just’ green. It is not a large bush, so I’m not sure if it is because this is how big it will grow, or that the soil it is in, is hardly optimum.
The rhododendrons I have seen growing in the forests are taller, but sparse. I don’t think the soil there is especially great once you get past the thin top soil.
Rhodies I have seen grown in parks in the Northwest are often heavily pruned. Is it to get more height on the plant? I don’t know. But I am slowly working more soil amendments around my rhodies, to give them a boost. They are also fed annually. Tulips and/or hyacinths are planted around the base of my rhodies. I get a longer time of spring blooms this way. I’ve also, pruned the bottom of my rhodies as they grow taller, this way I can see the ground cover plants better.