rhododendron schlippenbachii (royal azalea)

alla_pa(z6)May 15, 2005

Does anybody grow this deciduous rhodo? Is it very finicky? Does it really take 5 years for it to bloom for the first time? I bought one but could not find enough info on it.

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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

I've had two of this species for perhaps 15 years. I would say that it is not at all finicky except for the fact that it needs shade from hot sun. Dappled shade or morning sun/ afternoon shade is necessary to protect the rather thin textured leaves from scorching. It is extremely hardy and a very reliable bloomer. This was one of only a handful to bloom fully after the January 04 conditions of extreme cold, no snow cover, high winds and low humidity. I'm not sure what the five years to bloom refers to, but certainly plants as small as 3-4 feet bloom well.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 5:18AM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

I have two and I agree with maingrower. They do need a bit of shade as the one that has more sun/residual heat from the macadam of the driveway had very little flowering this year.

The other, ensconsed in an oak leafed bed was full of flowers this spring.

Both plants purchased (3 gal containers) and have flowered since they were planted.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 3:58PM
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magda(Z 5b/6aOnt Can)

I bought mine from a university nursery when it was a year old baby. I've had it for three years, and it hasn't bloomed yet. It is growing very well, though, and it has about tripled in size, so hopefully one day... Five years, you say.
I have a collection of Northern Lights azaleas that grow very well and bloom beautifully in the same location, so I guess, there is nothing wrong with the site. So, whatever you heard may be right I am afraid.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 9:15AM
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magda(Z 5b/6aOnt Can)

I am wondering if it is going to bloom for you Alla this year? What does it look like? Mine doesn't seem to have any blooms yet, only new shoots. The same story with Azalea lutea, which I also bought at the same time as my schlippenbachii.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2006 at 8:47PM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

One of mine is in bloom as of today. I'll post a pic once I get the hang of being able to do so (following Rhodyman's instructions)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2006 at 11:30PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

My schlippenbachii has been a super reliable plant. It is in full sun but with good ventilation and no pavement or wall nearby. It is in front of our front porch with lots of ventilation. It does get morning shade, but gets the brunt of midday sun.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2006 at 8:48PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

That would be 5 years from seed. Not much of a wait for a shrub, some might take much longer. Specimens of any size would already have put in much or most of that 5 years.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 1:44AM
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magda(Z 5b/6aOnt Can)

I just learned how to post pictures, and here is my really small rhodo schlippenbachii- the one that has not flowered yet.
My question is: it doesn't have a nice form. It looks more like one stick with a few puny branches. Could I cut off the leader (the main stick) to encourage a more bushy growth? If so, how?

Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 10:29PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

I wouldn't worry about it's form now. I assume you want a taller plant. Let it grow taller and then prune the top to force it to bush out. R. schlippenbachii will grow to 5' in 10 years. Mine is much older and over 5' tall. It is tolerant of most soils, not requiring as much acidity as most rhododendrons. It does require sun in mid summer for a heavy flower bud set. One of the most striking features of the plant is the fall color. If in more sun, the leaves will turn a striking red and then yellow.

Give it too much summer sun and the beautiful foliage will become an unsightly display. Give it too little sun exposure and the plant will not flower well and the growth habit will be leggy. In the right situation schlippenbachii will reward you with a gorgeous floral display in early spring and beautiful foliage the rest of spring, summer and fall.

Our ARS chapter just had a plant sale and sold several dozen schlippenbachii which were about 18" tall and the just had a few blooms this year. They will probably set more blooms next year. Given enough sun, they will soon develop a heavy flower bud set.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 9:34AM
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magda(Z 5b/6aOnt Can)

Thanks. I will check how much sun it gets in mid summer. I think it gets about 2 to 4 hours of direct sunshine (midday). It does have gorgeous fall colour.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 8:31PM
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