A true red rhododendron?

kimcocoJune 22, 2008

I need a smaller rhodie for the north side of my house. I am really looking for something red - not pink, but I'm having a hard time finding one. I found Nova Zembla, a very nice red, but it's too big. I have only three feet from my house to my property line. Everything else I see is either pink, lilac or yellow. I really want a red to plant next to my annabelle hydrangeas.

Any suggestions for zone 5?

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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Here are a couple:

Firestorm: Flower openly funnel-shaped, wavy edges, 3 1/4" across, bright deep red, unmarked. Dome-shaped trusses of 15-16. Height in 10 years is 3 ft. Hardy to -25°F (-32°C) Leaves elliptic, apiculate apex, rounded base, flat, 4 1/2" to 6" long, dark green with lighter midribs, retained 3 years. New foliage is lime colored. Spreading habit. It is available from Greer Gardens in Eugene, Oregon

Rangoon: Flower widely funnel-campanulate, wavy lobes, 2" across, moderate to dark red. No markings. Held in dome-shaped truss of 7-8 flowers. Height in 10 years is 3 ft. Hardy to -15°F (-26°C). Leaves elliptic, apiculate apex, cuneate base, 3 3/8" long, dark green, retained 2 years. Plant width 2x the height. It is available from Rare Find Nursery in Jackson, NJ

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 8:36AM
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Firestorm looks stunning.

So when they say height in 10 years is three feet, exactly how small a plant would I be getting? I think it would drown next to my hostas.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 1:08AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

It depends where you buy it and what inventory they have. I doubt that there are a lot of rhododendron nurseries near Milwaukee, so you may have to pay a lot for shipping a larger plant from any distance.

Greer's plants are 6" to 10" tall and cost about $21 plus shipping.

For a larger plant you may have to talk to your local nurseries and see if they can get a larger Firestorm put on the next truck load of plants they get. Many wholesalers such as Monrovia do have Firestorm.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 9:43AM
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Is Firestorm a pjm? I notice the leaves look something like that. I ask because the deer eat all regular rhododendrons I have planted but not the pjm's. They have a smell to the leaves when crushed.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 8:58AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

No, Firestorm is a cross of Vulcan x Chocolate Soldier. It is a large leaved rhododendron (elepidote). It contains R. griffthianum, R. griersonianum, and open-pollinated R. catawbiense.

PJM's are crosses R. minus x R. dauricum and subsequent crosses of these crosses. PJM's are small leaved rhododendrons (lepidotes).

Deer will eat any rhododendron when they are hungry enough. I always use deer netting in the winter to protect all of my rhododendrons. When there is snow on the ground the deer eat just about anything that is green except spruce.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2008 at 3:25PM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

Rhodyman, I think they have a couple months below -30F in Milwaukee.

I flew from Atlanta to Milwaukee in April. When I left, it was all lush green. I fell asleep on the airplane. When I woke up  I saw a large frozen lake and leafless trees covered with snow and ice.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 12:32AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Hi Snasxs,

A frozen lake indicates a long period below +31F and deciduous trees loose their leaves in winter and new ones emerge in Spring a little later in Milwaukee than in Atlanta. The record low temperature is -26F in the city and -40F in the suburbs. The normal winter low is +13F. Since they get lake effect snow, plants such as rhododendrons get some buffering from the bitter cold by the snow.

I agree that a rhododendron would struggle in their coldest winters.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2008 at 8:19AM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

Only +13F as low temperature in Milwaukee?! How about Madison? I have a hard time believing your rosy picture of the freezing region. If winter low is +13F, it is like zone 7.

BTW, here in Virginia, I saw a lot of Azaleas. One is a dark red shrub. The leaves and flowers are very small. But the over-all effect of the round-shaped large-bush is wonderful. Do you know what kind it is?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 6:33PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

The "normal winter low" is a daily average, not a seasonal extreme. The USDA zones are based on seasonal extremes.

Red azaleas in Virginia include the older common varieties: Hershey's Red and Stewartsonian. There are many more.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 8:07AM
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snasxs(7-8 VA)

Rhody, the two reds you introduced are beautiful. But this one is different.

The flowers are single. The 5 petals are quite narrow. The size of the flower is really small  about the size of my thumb-nail. But the flower is deep such that the base looks like a tube. The flowers does not look like clustered. They distribute among leaves. The leaves are just as small.

In the spring, the whole shrub is red. The color is really deep red  almost black-red!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 11:43AM
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