Bluest hardy azalea/rhodoedenron

woodnative(6)November 13, 2005

I think this may have come up once before but I could not find it. I live in zone 6 (central NJ). Which Rhododendron or azalea cultivar has the closest to a true blue flower?? Good habit, vigor etc. would also be a plus.


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I guess it depends on how you define blue, as I've yet to see a "blue" rhododendron or azalea that was anything more that a lilacy-purple. Most share a similar habit and color - 'Blue Diamond', 'Blue Tit' and 'Blue Boy' are all pretty similar in flower color and habit and hardy to at least -5F. 'Bob's Blue' is described as having "electric blue" flowers, but I just don't see it. Looks lilac to me and not even as intense as the some of the others already mentioned. For great hardiness, a very compact habit and some of the best "blue" flowers, R. impeditum is tough to beat.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2005 at 11:48PM
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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

There really is no true blue rhododendron - or true blue anything. This is the rarest color in the plant world. The closest to blue of any rhododendron I know of is Blue Ridge. This is a good, hardy small leafed variety which I have grown for 20+ years. It's unaccountably hard to find (but propagates easily from cuttings). The only place I've seen it listed recently is Carol's Collectibles in CT.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2005 at 5:29AM
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I'd agree on the no true "blue" rhododendron/azalea, but I'd have to take exception on the no true blue anything else in the plant world. There are a great many truly blue flowering plants, including species of meconopsis, aconitums, delphiniums, leadwort (plumbago), irises, clematis, ceanothus, violas and pansies, various bulbs, etc. I'd agree this flower color is not as common as others, but it certainly does exist.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2005 at 8:48AM
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Thank you for your replies. I realize there is no true blue in this Genus, I was just looking for the "bluest" cultivar out there. I had seen some unlabeled plants two years ago, but I was not even sure if it was truly a hardy variety. They were beautiful, however. I will check out the cultivars listed. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2005 at 10:31AM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

My dear Woodnative. May I suggest the following lepidote: epoch x augustinii which is the "bluest" that I've seen. This cultivar can be found in NJ at RareFindsNursery. It's an Augie Kehr development that he gave to Hank Schannen a few years back and which remains unnamed. I saw it last May (it blooms at the end of April) and is hardy in Zone 6 and I have to tell you: It's stunning. I had other plants in my radar at the time. But I am purchasing it this spring.

I have some nice blue lavenders: Faisa, Lavendula, among others, this augustinii will stop you in dead in your tracks.

While there's a pic of it on his website, I find that pics of Rhodies on the net (i.e. a nursery website) rarely if ever gives one an accurate mind's eye view of the plant.

Consider it.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2005 at 11:18AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

R. augustinii is the most popular "blue" rhododendron and is popular because the "blue" almost glows. However it is not a true blue and is not hardy. It is seldom seen on the East Coast and is mostly a West Coast plant.

'epoch' x augustinii is not very hardy and is a very pale blue.

A good hardy "blue" is 'Bluenose' which is a very hardy small leaved rhododendron from Nova Scotia. It has lavender-blue flowers, which are about the truest blue found on a rhododendron grown in the northeast. For a picture check out the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rhododendron 'Bluenose'

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 10:37AM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

Rhody. I won't have an issue growing either of the epoch (and I love the pale blue as it is very close to being a true blue) or the strait up Augustinii Now if you live in the Poky Nose, that's a horse of a different color. But this poster can grow either or toggle on over to Bluenose (your choice). Just a question. Have you ever even seen Bluenose in flower?

Btw. Until you grow something, you don't know if it'll be hardy or not. I lost dauricum alba 2 years ago (a well established 5'er no less).

With the above plants, if you plant them in "the right spot", they'll do just fine.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 2:11PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

No I don't grow augustinii or Bluenose, but Hank Shannen (Rare Find Nursery) does and he said that Bluenose is the truest of the blues he has grown.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rhododendron 'Bluenose'

    Bookmark   November 29, 2005 at 6:03PM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

That's where I purchase all of my rhodies these days (previously it was through nurserywoman Betty Cummins).

I'll look at Bluenose as well. The Augustinii is still on the list though. Thanks.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2005 at 9:14AM
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I can attest to the hardiness of Bluenose; I've grown it for years in 5a Iowa, and it's both heat and cold tolerant (most of the blue lepidotes, especially with russatum parentage, turn up their toes here in 90 degree August). Bluenose is kind of a lavender blue but a very lovely color. RareFind mentions its propensity to bark splitting in winter sun, and my plant has indeed had a bit of that, but has survived fine. It's one of my very favorite lepidotes due to its unique flower color. It's a very upright shrub, and my plant is 7 ft. tall, rather than the 4 ft. advertised, but it's in rather a shady spot. You can see a picture of it that I think is quite color-true on my garden blog, linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: An Iowa Garden

    Bookmark   December 1, 2005 at 5:02PM
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It looks like I need to make a trip to RareFind this Spring..something I have been meaning to do in the past. Both look very beautiful!!!!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 2:05PM
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plumism(z4-5 MA)

I am having some Rhodies planted for my Mom in Northern NJ-(zone 6 I was told). I want 3 varieties that look well togther in white and pink (not purple). I would like large leaves, evergreen, flowers that are still pretty once faded, rounded habit (not too leggie), part shade to shade, (and easy to find). Any suggestions?


    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 3:23PM
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