May 27, 2017
Rhododendrons are a genus of more than one thousand, woody flowering plants in the Ericaceae botanical family. Its name is derived from the Greek words “rodon” translating into rose, and “dendron” meaning tree. Other member of the Ericaceae family (sometimes referred to as the Heath or Heather family) include Cranberries, Blueberries, Huckleberries, Heaths, Heathers and Azaleas. Somewhat confusing is that all Azaleas are Rhododendrons, but not all Rhododendrons are Azaleas. Rhododendrons are generally evergreen, while Azaleas are deciduous (one that loses its leaves during winter). Rhododendrons are native to western China, northern India, Nepal, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Japan, Korea, parts of Europe and both eastern and western North America.
This genus of plants range in size from low-lying ground cover and medium size shrubs up to tree size plants. They are hardy in North American zones 5 to 8. Rhododendrons thrive in partial sun and an acidic soil in the pH range of 4.5 to 6.0. If the leaves of your plant are turning yellow between their green veins, it most likely indicates a pH problem. They like a moist, but well-draining soil high in organic matter. In less than ideal soil, a complete fertilizer specifically for acid loving plants can be applied either in early spring or late fall. With shallow, fibrous, almost hair-like roots, these plants can easily be transplanted if they get too big for their original location. Additionally, a new plant can be started from a cutting from another Rhododendron.
The leaves of Rhododendrons are spirally arranged along its stems. Leaf size can vary from as small as half an inch up to twenty inches in length. Rhododendrons typically lose some of their leaves each year. Leaves may turn yellow, purple or red before falling off. In addition, some plants may shed some leaves, or the leaves may curl when temperatures drop to freezing.
Rhododendrons produce large, round clusters of flowers, ranging in colors from white and pink to red and purple, and come in a variety of shapes. The typical bloom time is early spring through mid summer, depending on one’s geographical region. These plants are commonly referred to as the “King of Shrubs.”
If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too great or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!
Steven H. Spring