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How is your Cherry Cheesecake Rhodie doing?

Posted by cat_delgado 6 - Ansonia CT (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 3, 12 at 10:55

I've had mine for two years and I'm very dissapointed in the lack of growth in mine. I know it's not the location. I have a Ms. Furnival in the same bed just a few feet away and it's growing in leaps and bounds. The CC just hasn't done anything really. I'm thinking of ripping it out but the first year I had it, the blooms where incredible. Any one else having better luck growing it? I'd given it fertilizer, thrown down soil acidifier, pruned dead leaves and watered on a schedule. This Rhodie just doesn't seem real happy for me. Any feedback would be great. I'm looking at some replacements for it but feel guilty. Anyone else having issues with this one?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: How is your Cherry Cheesecake Rhodie doing?

When I was at Rare Find Nursery in NJ last fall they said CC was not a good grower for them. Then I went up to Maine and saw a small one that looked very healthy - couldn't resist it. We'll see how it does here - looks like we're in the same zone.

RE: How is your Cherry Cheesecake Rhodie doing?

Three years in, Cherry Cheesecake is pretty iffy for me, as well. It puts out little new growth, tends to suffer somewhat from dieback in the winter and doesn't set many buds. I'm willing to struggle along still because the flowers really are unique and spectacular.

Cherry Cheesecake is an "improved" version of 'Hachmann's
Charmant' a notoriously weak grower. It's possible that the inherent flaws of Charmant remain present in Cherry Cheesecake. Another possibility - one I did not fully appreciate until prompted by Kenneth Cox's book to learn more - is problems in the tissue culture process. As far as I know, all Cherry Cheesecakes in the first wave of availability in the US came from Briggs Nursery's tissue culture operation. There's good deal that can go wrong resulting in weak plants.

RE: How is your Cherry Cheesecake Rhodie doing?

It is relatively new, so the jury is still out. When Charmant came out everyone wanted it because of its gorgeous flower. But most became disappointed with it as the plant became tall and gangly. There was immediate interest in Cherry Cheesecake since it seemed to address this problem. However, your report suggests that it may have some issues. Can you describe your location, such as drainage and sun/shade.

It is a tetraploid version of Hachmann's Charmant. Hachmann's plants in Germany are usually grafted and aren't known for doing well on their own roots which is the way we usually raise them in the US. Briggs in WA introduced it and I notice that Rarefind Nursery in NJ is selling it. It is a little smaller plant than Mrs. Furnival. It is reported to need at least partial shade, especially afternoon shade.

Fertilizer and water can be problems. Liquid chemical fertilizers like Miracid are the worst. Most rhododendrons don't need much fertilizer. If fertilized at all, I recommend using something like HollyTone with organic nitrogen and only once a year at bloom time at half the rate on the package. They should only be watered when they are getting a little dry. Dry is much better than wet.

RE: How is your Cherry Cheesecake Rhodie doing?

The grafted vs.own roots may be the explanation for Cherry Cheesecake problems, but I don't think it's a general problem for Hachmann varieties. Polaris, Astrid, Polarnacht, Kabarett, Goldkrone, and Fantastica have done just fine for me and other people I know of. I'm more inclined to think it's the Charmant genes or problems in the tissue culture process.

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