Plants - Trees and Shrubs

The 2011 rhododendrons of the year

See which rhodos and azaleas received top honours--you just might want to add one to your garden


South Central

Elepidote: ‘Brown Eyes’ (possibly a R. fortunei hybrid)
(pictured under Mid-Atlantic)

Lepidote: ‘Landmark’ (‘Counterpoint’ X Carolina Rose Group)
(not pictured)
Seen from afar, this is the elusive red lepidote. Closer observation shows the compact, dome-shaped trusses of wavy-edged flowers to be purplish-red. A vigorous upright grower (four feet in 10 years), it is covered with flowers in early spring and bronze-mahogany foliage in winter. It is hardy to -29 C (-20 F) and sun-tolerant. It is among the last of Ed Mezitt’s crosses from Weston Nurseries.

Deciduous azalea: R. austrinum
(shown above)
Known as the Flame azalea or Florida Flame Azalea, it is native to the Florida panhandle and nearby areas of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. It was discovered by Dr. A. W. Chapman before 1865 and is now listed as endangered in Florida. It is similar to r. canescens in many ways, but differs in flower colour, being yellow-orange rather than pink and white. Fragrant blooms, attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds, appear in shades of yellow, gold and orange in early spring. The medium greens leaves appear about the same time as the flowers and are covered with a soft fuzz on both sides. It is one of the easiest of the native azaleas to grow and is widely used as a landscape plant. It has an open growth habit, reaches 10 feet in the wild, and is hardy to -26 C (-15 F) It is heat-tolerant and widely used by hybridizers to increase heat tolerance.

photo by Steve Krebs

Evergreen azalea: ‘Martha Hitchcock’ (R. mucronatum X ‘Shinnyo-no-tsuki’)
(not pictured)
Three-inch white flowers edged with purplish red appear in midseason. The foliage is hairy and dark dull green. The plant has a broad spreading habit, growing to four feet in 10 years. Hardy to -26 C (-15 F). A Ben Morrison/Glenn Dale hybrid introduced in 1948, it won an Award of Merit in 1972 and a First Class Certificate in 1976 from the RHS.


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