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Species Rhododendrons

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12 Species Rhododendrons.

We are all familiar with the hybrid forms of rhododendron, but there is another impressive group that are the species rhododendrons. These wild plants are discovered growing naturally in the forests as well as mountains of the world, a lot of which make superior garden plants.

One of the finest locations to see them is the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in Federal Way, Washington, which contains one of the biggest collections of rhododendrons worldwide.


There are countless variations with a basically endless range of floral shades and growing from the late winter season right into late summer. Some kinds are aromatic. The foliage of several types is very unusual as well as attractive, providing year-round fascination.


Easy to cultivate in cool-summer/mild-winter regions, Zones 5 to 9. Outside of these regions, it is still feasible to grow many kinds if care is taken to select the appropriate cultivars or types. The RSBG is in zone 8.


As a group, rhododendrons need an direct but not-too-hot exposure to sunlight with low soil temperature levels. Exemptions are the tiny-leaved alpine and dwarf varieties, which are best in bright sun.

Using Species Rhododendrons

  1. Adopt mobility. As a result of their fibrous root system, rhodies can be quickly relocated as problems require.
  2. Take advantage of their growth with shade plants and wildflowers, which appreciate the reduced light under the rhodies foliage.
  3. Plan for a lengthy show period. It’s feasible to have varieties rhododendrons in blossom from the earliest thaw of spring to the longest days of summer.
  4. Fit rhodies to the space you have. Much better yet, pick the right-sized or even a dwarf plant for the spot.
  5. The refined coloring of the spercies rhododendrons is easier to incorporate into the yard compared to the usually severe colors of hybrids.

Featured image: RHODODENDRON DAVIDSONIANUM AND R. AUGUSTINII: all photos by Andrew Drake

Continue reading to uncover a collection of 12 wild rhododendrons that make impressive yard plants on the next page >>

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