Return to the California Gardening Forum | Post a Follow-Up

Rhododendrons as trees

Posted by dick_sonia Sunset 17 (My Page) on
Tue, May 10, 11 at 13:51

I have often recommended rhododendrons when gardeners along the northern coast are looking for small evergreen trees with showy flowers. The usual response is something along the lines of, "no, I want a tree, not a shrub."

There is no firm botanical distinction between a large shrub and a small tree. It often comes down to how the plant is shaped by the gardener. Since they are in bloom now, I'll take this opportunity to illustrate the principle with a photo from a local subdivision where rhododendron trees are found throughout. A canopy of magenta projects above the rooftops and can be seen from two blocks away.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Rhododendrons as trees

  • Posted by hoovb z9 Southern CA (My Page) on
    Tue, May 10, 11 at 14:00

Wow! Those are magnificent. Survivors planted long ago?

You are right, what are commonly called shrubs can eventually become trees. I have seen plain old Privit, Ligustrum japonicum, as good looking limbed-up trees of 25-30 feet. Small trees can become pretty large, too. Sunday I saw a 30' Pomegranate tree.

RE: Rhododendrons as trees

In their native land, many of the original spp. can get 35-40 feet (that is not to say those in cultivation will). Those certainly brighten up that bleak built environment!


RE: Rhododendrons as trees

When I lived in Watsonville my work led me into many of the backyards of the old homes built in the 1920s most of two story construction. Old Rhododendrons that must have over fifty years old climbed the full two stories, partly because of other mature forest trees creating excess shade. Few looking at them would say they were a shrub. Unfortunately climbing for the light did not help the shape or the amount of bloom. Al

RE: Rhododendrons as trees

Those are amazing! A few years ago I got to visit a garden in Japan full of tree rhodies, it was my first time seeing them and I was blown away.

About how long does it take a Rhododendron to grow that large? 10 years or more? I thought they were supposed to be planted in shady conditions, is that just in hot summer climates?

Thanks for sharing!

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the California Gardening Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here