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My first Rhody - Cunningham's White

Posted by kimcoco Zone 5, Milwaukee WI (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 23, 08 at 1:15

I was at Menards today and I couldn't pass up this rhododendron. I've had the itch to buy one all year, but I've put it off due to space restrictions. They looked so healthy I had to give in, not to mention the price is much better than my local nursery.

I'm planting it on the northwest corner of my house, where my fence meets up with my house - tucked into a protected corner. It will get late afternoon sun only.

I was originally thinking of a red rhody nova zembla, which I know is hardy to my region, but that one is just too big for this space, and I didn't want anything pink or pastel. I REALLY wanted red, but I'll settle for white. I think white is nice to and will brighten up the area nicely - for a short time anyway.

We have 36" from our house to our property line, and past that is some lawn and then my neighbors driveway. I didn't want anything that would protrude too far out.

They had two varieties - Rhododendron x 'Cunningham White' and the other was a 'Betty ...' something...I think. I can't remember the name, and it's driving me crazy. The 'Betty' grew to 3' x 3', and the label said it had crimson flowers (pretty), and was hardy to -15 degrees - so I didn't get this one for that reason.

The Cunningham White label reads 4' x 4', no zone hardy information listed. So, I searched the web and there's info that says it gets 4' tall and wide, and others say it gets 7' tall and wide. Which is it??? The flowers are white - pink buds open to white flowers.

I have annabelle hydrangea on this side of the house as well - is that too much white? I think white looks very pretty in the landscape...but I also planted a pieris mountain fire which will be between the hydrangea and rhody along the same wall, left to right annabelle, pieris and rhody.

Anyone familiar with this variety?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: My first Rhody - Cunningham's White

Cunningham's White is one of the oldest varieties and is very adaptive to most soils, growing in very slightly acidic to very acidic soils. For this reason it is used in Europe as a root stock for grafted rhododendrons.

Cunningham's White is hardy to -15F. Grows to 4' by 4' in 10 years. Will get bigger if left to grow as will all rhododendrons.

Nova Zembla is hardy to -25F and is a true deep red, not pinkish. It grows to 5' by 5' in 10 years.

The most popular Betty's are Betty Hume and Betty Wormald. They are both larger plants.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to grow rhododendrons and azaleas.


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RE: My first Rhody - Cunningham's White

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Wed, Jul 23, 08 at 11:15

kimcoco, this older rhododendron is still popular for good reason - it's a workhorse in the garden, a tough cookie. :)
Coming from a much milder climate, I can only imagine that it's a good choice for you there.

It won't bloom at the same time as your hydrangea so no worries as to repeating color.


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RE: My first Rhody - Cunningham's White

  • Posted by kimcoco Zone 5, Milwaukee WI (My Page) on
    Mon, Jul 28, 08 at 0:35

Thanks for the advice. I hope it's as pretty as all the other rhodys!


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RE: My first Rhody - Cunningham's White

It's a very handsome plant indeed which I found to be a prolific flowerer with a long bloom period.

Mine was purchased at Rare Finds last fall during their 'dog sale'. $10 for this + 3'er, well branched and budded in a 15 gal container no less.

Cunninghams' White has done very well within that part of my landscape that has afternoon southeastern exposure, and with that, some very dry conditions at times this year. A hardy plant and one which will look pretty good all year long.

Excellent choice.


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RE: My first Rhody - Cunningham's White

  • Posted by kimcoco Zone 5, Wisconsin (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 22, 09 at 14:39

Thought I'd post back - my Cunningham's White Rhody looks like it handled the winter well here in zone 5.


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