Rhododendrons are an amazing group of plants with new species still been discovered. These beautiful group of flowering shrubs to trees offering something very rewarding for those who love to garden and those who are inspired to garden.
The Rhododendron is perhaps the most beautiful plant we grow at Blackwood Ridge Nursery.
Situated in the Wombat forest at an attitude of 660m the nursery Blackwood Ridge benefits from high rainfall, mists, fogs and rather mild summers and has proven to be ideally suited to a large number of rhododendron varieties.
Australian gardens where Hydrangeas, Camellias and Pieris grow are great for Rhododendrons, in fact right here in Victoria we have the National Rhododendron Gardens at Olinda if you would like to visit or know more Australian Rhododendron Society.
Q & A
"All azaleas are rhododendrons but not all rhododendrons are azaleas"
Azaleas have been reclassified and are now in the genus Rhododendron.
There are no clear cut lines for distinguishing all azaleas from all rhododendrons but here are a few characteristics to look for.
True rhododendrons have 10 or more stamens which is 2 per lobe. Azaleas usually have 5 stamens or 1 per lobe. Azaleas have 5 lobes in a flower.
Azaleas tend to have appressed hairs which is hair parallel to the surface of the leaf. This is particularly true along the midrib on the underside of the leaf. It is easily seen in "evergreen" azaleas. True rhododendrons instead of hair are often scaly or have small dots on the under side of the leaf. Azalea leaves are never dotted with scales and are frequently pubescent.
Many azaleas are deciduous. True rhodies are usually evergreen with the exceptions of R. mucronulatum and R. dauricum.
Azaleas have tubular funnel or funnel shaped flowers. Rhody flowers tend to be bell-shaped.
Companion plants include:
Trees: Oaks, Magnolias, Japanese Maples, Styrax, Stewartias, Birch and Dogwoods.
Evergreens: Pines, Dwarf Conifers, all Broadleaf Evergreens.
Perennials: Hostas, Heucheras, Woodland plants, and many more that appreciate similar conditions.
Elepidotes are large leaved rhododendrons. They are the type of shrub that most individuals would associate as being a rhododendron. They do not have scales located on the underside of the leaves. Plants tend to be very large in their maturity.
Lepidote rhododendron have smaller leaves and are usually low growing or dwarfs. They usually bloom earlier in the spring than the larger leaved elepidotes. Tiny scales cover the undersides of the leaves of some rhododendron species.
A Brief History
In the wild, rhododendrons range from giants of 20-30 metres to diminutive ground-hugging dwarfs barely a 10cm high. The leaves of some species exceed 75cm in length and 30cm in width; others never reach a 1.25cm in length. Some have flower trusses as large as a basketball while others have tiny thimble-size flowers. Some are fragrant, some are not. Colours cover the entire spectrum.
Survivors of the ice-age Rhododendrons have managed to adapt themselves to the changing conditions of their environment. The largest concentration of these plants in the wild exists in the Himalayan area and Western China. We even have native species in Northern Queensland (Vireyas).