Rhododendron comes from two Greek words—”rhodon,” meaning rose, and “dendron,” meaning tree; but what does a rhododendron look like?
Despite the name deriving from Greek, rhododendrons grow all over America and other countries as shrubs.
Rhododendron shrubs are evergreen or deciduous, with some growing as wild, but most are cultivated. These flowers are popular with most gardeners and landscapers due to their large and attractive flowers.
The flowers this plant produces are beautiful, with showy blossoms and a gorgeous display of colour. Late April, May and June is a wonderful time of the year for these flowers to bloom.
Let’s learn everything about this flower, so you grow it with a better understanding.
So What Does A Rhododendron Look Like?
Cultivated rhododendron are evergreen plants with large leaves and remarkable flowers that bloom in late spring. Most of these flowers bloom from April to June, and sometimes the flowers last until late summer.
Ornamental rhododendrons have large, oval leaves with a medium or glossy dark green upper surface and a pale, dull green lower surface. Their flowers are bell-shaped and come in clusters known as trusses, and they vary in colour – white, pink. Orange, yellow, red, and purple. Their flowers have spots of a different colour from the rest of the flowers.
It is believed that about 1000 species of rhododendrons exist belonging to the family Ericaceae. All rhododendron plants belong to the genus Rhododendron. There are many varieties of plants in the Rhododendron genus, and the different varieties hybridize easily, making it tough to classify them.
Does Rhododendron Look Like Azaleas?
It may seem strange to many who do not know that Azaleas are a type of rhododendron. The genus Rhododendron has 8 subgroups, and Azaleas belong to 2 of these subgroups.
Azaleas are attractive flowering shrubs grown for their flowers. Their flowers are not as large and showy as those of the rhododendrons, but they are as popular. Azaleas are deciduous that have smaller leaves and are shorter in height. They have funnel-shaped flowers than rhododendron ones with 5 stamens.
Point to note: All azaleas are rhododendrons, however not all rhododendrons are azaleas. The evergreen azaleas belong to the subgenus Tsutsui, while deciduous azaleas are classified in the subgenus Pentanthera.
The Differences Between Azaleas And Rhododendron
Most people tend to confuse between these two plants – Rhododendrons and Azaleas. Here are some differences to remember
Azaleas are deciduous, which means they will lose their leaves in the fall while Rhododendrons are evergreen – they keep their leaves during winter with the exceptions of R. mucronulatum and R. dauricum.
They have appressed hairs, which is hair parallel to the leaf’s surface, while Rhododendrons are scaly or have dots adorning the underneath of their leaves.
Azaleas produce tubular or funnel-shaped flowers, while rhododendrons flowers are more bell-shaped.
They come with 5 stamens per lobe and 5 lobes in the flower, while rhododendrons have more than 10 stamens or 2 per lobe.
Wild Rhododendron Species
Besides the cultivated species, there are wild species of this flower that grows beautifully too. They include:
Rhododendron macrophyllum is found in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. It derives its names from the pacific, Western and Coast Rhododendron. This plant has pink flowers and is used as the state flower of Washington.
Rhododendron arboreum is used as the national flower of Nepal. It’s popularly known as gurans or laligurans in that country and grows to form magnificent mountain forests. It produces bright red flowers that change to pink or white as the elevation increases. This wild rhododendron is also found in Bhutan, India, Myanmar, China and Sri Lanka.
Types Of Rhododendron
These are hardy and shade-loving rhododendrons. They prefer cooler regions as far as zone 4. They have bright red, showy flowers that make a great choice for a short hedge. Adding Epsom salts to the soil brightens the dull leaves back to their natural shiny hue.
Rhododendron ‘Blue Peter’
This variety is sun-tolerant with elegant, frilly lavender flowers. Their bloom appears in mid-spring, and their shrubs grow to a height of about 4 feet tall. This variety prefers slightly acidic soils and good drainage.
Rhododendron ‘Boule de Neige’
Also known as the ball of Snow in English, this variety prefers deep-shade. It produces big balls of white flowers in spring. This variety easily dies from waterlogging.
Rhododendron ‘Bow Bells’
This variety has pink, bell-shaped blooms and rounded foliage that makes it a favourite among many gardeners. The foliage has a bronze colour when young but turns to deep green when it matures.
This type has evergreen foliage with unusual lush yellow blooms that combine with its glossy green leaves. This variety loves shade and takes no more than 4 hours of direct sunlight per day. You can plant it under trees as long as the trees do not have surface roots.
Rhododendron ‘White Angel’
This variety produces semi-evergreen blooms in plenty starting from mid-April. It can grow up to 6 feet tall with long-lasting, showy white flowers that thrive in deep or partial shade. After blooming, it’s important to prune it back to keep it looking vibrant.
Rhododendron ‘Nova Zembla’
It reaches up to 8 feet producing a cluster of crimson blooms. It thrives in shady areas, and you can try it as a hedge too.
Rhododendron ‘Black Satin’
This type has deep pink flowers blooming early spring to give way to dark purple-black foliage come winter. This flower type brings dynamic interest to your garden. It thrives against slopes and buildings but does not like west and south winds.
Growing healthy and long-blooming rhododendrons require properly amended soils and the right location to ensure they bloom to their maximum.
Rhododendron care is minimal, which encourages many gardeners to grow these beauties. The care includes adequate watering, pruning, and deadheading the flowers to encourage abundant blooming.
Now that we know what rhododendron look like, it’s time to grow them in gardens or as hedges in our homes.
Flower hedges are the best to have if you are a flowery person. The bloom will bring more bees and butterflies around, and what a better way to spend summer than picking beautiful flowers from your garden.