I was wondering if there are any rhodies that are,
--glossy, bright leaves
--survive zone6 NJ
--small size (a plus)
Could anyone recomend any varieties?
Hank Schannen at Rare Find Nursery in NJ has the following:
A newer bright hardy red, which blooms in late May to extend your season. The flowers have wavy edges. Dark green foliage covers a dense, spreading plant; width is greater than the height; and hardy too!
'Francesca' took the rhododendron world by surprise in the early 70's as one of the first patented rhododendrons. It was the answer to the blue-red color of 'Nova Zembla' which had been the hardy red for northern climates. 'Francesca' is a tall growing shrub with buds that are almost black-red as they open. The flowers are a deep carmine red in a large spectacular truss. A great red for late midseason display.
R. 'Harold Amateis'
This red is a low 2-3' plant with great leaves. The new growth on this plant is fantastic. Long, narrow, upright fingery shoots are covered with red bracts and hairs. Mature leaves are relatively narrow, very dark green and heavily textured. The blooms on this plant may take a few years to appear, but when they do, the early-season flowers of deep, pure red in ball trusses will knock you out. There is nothing else quite like it.
R. 'Pride's Early Red'
A little known Lanny Pride plant from the "ice box" of western Pennsylvania. Most hardy reds tend to grow tall and gangly, but our 20 year old plant is unusually compact. This compactness and its redder flowers on a tough Zone 5 plant are its differentiating qualities. The leaves are a dark forest green. It blooms about May 15 for us, which is earlier than other red ironclads.
If you are familiar with Yak hybrids, they have outstanding foliage on a compact plant. Here is a yak hybrid with red flowers having contrasting white filaments. Dark green foliage clothes a plant which has a low growing, compact habit.
This is a spectacular early blooming red rhododendron. It is identical in parentage to 'Grace Seabrook' and they bloom a few days apart. Eventually becomes a large sized plant with pointed dark green leaves and dark maroon flower buds that make the plant a year-round asset. The 3.5 inch flowers are a spectacular dark red with black spotting. Few others rival its bloom in the early season.
These are a low to medium height plants that are hardy to at least -15F. I know Hank and he run's a first class operation. He is very active in the American Rhododendron Society.
Here is a link that might be useful: Rare Find Nursery in NJ
Wow! Thank you so much--they are beautiful!
Well, no, guess what, they don't "have the following". They are sold out of some of them, after seeming to have them available for online purchasing this spring. Roslyn and Greer Gardens have a nice selection of rare rhododendrons, too, and have filled many _complete_ orders for me over the years.
This morning, after walking the garden and admiring my six foot Harold Amateis, and my five foot Taurus, I recalled this post.
If you had purchased Taurus, or had been lucky enough to find Harold, you might now be surprised at the growth rate of these so-called "small" rhododendrons.
My Taurus has grown at the rate of 9-10 inches per year, a change in diameter of approximately 20 inches each year!
Harold Amateis grows likewise. Bred by Amateis, introduced back in the seventies by the late Warren Baldseifen, Harold was the "impossible" cross between strigillosum and maximum.
It certainly captured the physical behavior of Maximum (so one can expect a large, hardy plant) and almost the appearance of strig, although the red does have some slight blue.
It's unfortunate that Harold doesn't begin to bloom until it becomes rather large plant; consequently it never became a hit with the local nurseries. Too bad. I bought mine in Maine. I also bought a three footer from Rare Find, the last one in stock. Hank does have some one year olds; not yet for sale.
On the subject of small Rhododendrons, Rangoon is much discussed. I also picked up Sumatra, at Lowes! Grace Seabrook is supposed to be smaller than Taurus (they are said to be impossible to tell apart)
My other reds:
One ten foot tall Vulcan
Six 3-4 foot Vulcans (Cant help it love the color)
Two Jean Marie de Montague
Two other Taurus
Nodding Bells (another Amateis hybrid)
Fred Peste (an experiment)
Double Winner (another experiment)
I only fertilize my rhododendrons every 10 years or so and don't use very much then. I planted most of them in a lot of sun. They don't grow too fast and seem to maintain their size fairly well. I do prune every few years. I prune when they are blooming to get cut flowers.
If you don't want them to grow too much, plant a "small" variety, seldom fertilize and don't plant in the shade.