are these wild rhododendrons?

jacqueline9CAJuly 10, 2012

I took these pictures at about 3500 feet in the mountains in way No Cal. Mostly done blooming, but you can still see a flower cluster in the second picture. My question is - are these wild rhododendrons, or something else? The stand was very large - maybe 15 feet by 10 feet. The blooms were VERY fragrant - smelled to me just like honeysuckle.

Another question - if they are rhododendrons, how can I propagate them? We owns 3 1/2 acres of land that starts about 20 feet away from where these are growing, so I would hope they would grow on our property too, although I have not been able to find any.

Thanks so much for your help, and pls forgive my ignorance - I don't know much about rhododendrons.

Jackie

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jacqueline9CA

For some reason the pictures didn't work - trying again.

Jackie

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 4:50PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Your native rhododendrons are:

Rhododendron macrophyllum (Pacific rhododendron) purple flower.

Rhododendron occidentale (Western Azalea) white flower.

So it appears to be R. occidental, your native azalea. It is the envy of many of us on the East coast since it doesn't do well here. In fact very few people are able to keep it alive here. However that doesn't seem to be a problem on the West Coast. It is native to Southern Oregon and California, mostly in the Coast Range and the Sierra Nevada Range.

It is deciduous, meaning that it grows new leaves every year. Your leaves have been out a while and look very much like evergreen leaves. When new they look very different. It seems to always grow near water but does not like to grow in wet soil. It is found on the sides of streams often where there is a fair amount of light.

There are some very showy forms such at:

You can transplant it, take cuttings and root them, or raise if from seed. For more information on propagation visit the American Rhododendron website at:

ARS How to grow rhododendrons from seed

or the Azalea Society of America website at:

ASA Azalea Propagation

Here is a good article on Rhododendron Occidentale

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Grow Rhododendrons and Azaleas

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 3:26PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

And it goes without saying that you must not attempt transplanting one of these gems. Native azaleas can be purchased pretty readily on line. Such a wonderful fragrance!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 9:34PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

There is a difference between transplant from the wild and rescue. If a construction project is going to inundate native plants, then they can be rescued. That is how I got my Kalmia after a friend called me. I got them from the piles the bulldozers had made.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 10:05AM
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jacqueline9CA

Thanks, rhodyman! Just what I wanted to know. I'm sure it is rhododendron occidentale - where it is growing is in the middle of the Coast range in No Cal, in good light, maybe 15-20 ft away from a creek (the "creek" is 35 feet across). So, it sounds as if this plant is growing right in the middle of its native range, in the exact conditions you mentioned.

I am very familiar with propagating roses, so I should be able to root this rhododendron - I did print out the instructions - thanks again. I will try and plant a baby plant of it on our close-by property, also near the same creek - we shall see how that works.

Of course, I would never try and "transplant" a wild plant, but this one is huge, and I'm sure can spare a cutting. It is growing in a very safe spot, in a bright clearing just off the road by the side of the start of a private bridge that spans the creek.

Thanks again for the info-

Jackie

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 2:34PM
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jacqueline9CA

Thanks, rhodyman! Just what I wanted to know. I'm sure it is rhododendron occidentale - where it is growing is in the middle of the Coast range in No Cal, in good light, maybe 15-20 ft away from a creek (the "creek" is 35 feet across). So, it sounds as if this plant is growing right in the middle of its native range, in the exact conditions you mentioned.

I am very familiar with propagating roses, so I should be able to root this rhododendron - I did print out the instructions - thanks again. I will try and plant a baby plant of it on our close-by property, also near the same creek - we shall see how that works.

Of course, I would never try and "transplant" a wild plant, but this one is huge, and I'm sure can spare a cutting. It is growing in a very safe spot, in a bright clearing just off the road by the side of the start of a private bridge that spans the creek.

Thanks again for the info-

Jackie

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 2:35PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

It is worth trying seeds also. Make sure you follow directions for deciduous azaleas. Some deciduous azaleas are very difficult to root. I am not sure about R. occidental. Seeds require more patience but are less of a challenge otherwise. The problem with the rooted cuttings is they sometimes don't break dormancy after they root, or take a year or two to break dormancy. Here is something that may be helpful:

"Some deciduous azaleas, such as true Mollis hybrids, are difficult to grow from cuttings. Others, particularly the R. occidentale hybrids, strike easily from soft to semi-ripe cuttings taken in mid- to late spring.
Deciduous azalea cuttings must strike well before winter otherwise they will probably collapse before spring. It is often best to shelter the first-year cuttings. If this is not possible, layering or aerial layering may be better methods to use."

Another trick is to keep deciduous azalea cuttings growing under lights until the new growth starts. Otherwise they often will never break dormancy and die the next year. But maybe that isn't a problem with occidental.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 3:30PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I've done rescues many a time at abandonded old homes about to be demolished. The treasures to be found on old southern properties are amazing.

Rhody, you are such a wealth of great information. I always learn something valuable when I pay a visit to this forum.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 4:45PM
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