Botanical Name : Rhododendron x praecox
Species: R. ponticum
Common Name : Rhododendron
Habitat : Rhododendron x praecox is a hybrid between Rhododendron ciliatum and Rhododendron dauricum. The cross was selected by Isaac Davies of the Brook Lane Nursery in Ormskirk, Lancashire around 1855 and was introduced on the market in 1861.
Rhododendron x praecox is an evergreen Shrub growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 2 m (6ft).
It is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Apr to May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.
The shrubs have a loose upright growth and will reach a width of approx. 100 cm and a height of 120 after around 10 years. Under ideal conditions they will reach heights of 2 metres and a width of 1,5 metres, with an annual growth of approx. 5 cm.
Wood and Bark
The stems of a 120 cm-high shrubs are up to 2 cm across and rather flexible. The bark appears to be relatively smooth, young shoots are a reddish brown becoming light brown and slightly scaly in age.
Rhododendron x praecox is evergreen and has alternate, simple ovate leaves with entire margins. The leaves are approx. 60 x 27 mm in size and are glossy dark-green, they are hairy above and scaly below. Young leaves are lime-green.
Rhododendron x praecox thus has leaves that are slightly larger than those of Rhododendron dauricum whose foliage also turns brownish in winter.
Depending on the growing conditions older leaves may be shed after having taken on a light yellow autumn colour. In that case only the youngest generation of leaves will overwinter together with the terminal flower buds.
Flowers and Fruit
The funnel-shaped and somewhat bulgy flowers appear from March to April. They are bright pink-purple with darker margins on the inside and dark pink-purple on the outside. The flowers usually arranged in loose terminal umbels made up of 1 to 5 flowers. Each flowers is approx. 2,5 x 4,5 cm in size. They flowers do not bear marks, the scent can hardly be distinguished.
The fruits are septicidal capsules.
Succeeds in acid or neutral soils in sun or part shade. Succeeds in a most humus-rich lime-free soils except those of a dry arid nature or those that are heavy or clayey. Prefers a peaty or well-drained sandy loam. Succeeds in sun or shade, the warmer the climate the more shade a plant requires. A pH between 4.5 and 5.5 is ideal. Succeeds in a woodland though, because of its surface-rooting habit, it does not compete well with surface-rooting trees. Plants need to be kept well weeded, they dislike other plants growing over or into their root system, in particular they grow badly with ground cover plants, herbaceous plants and heathers. Plants form a root ball and are very tolerant of being transplanted, even when quite large, so long as the root ball is kept intact. Plants are hardy to about -15°c but the flowers come out in spring and are very frost tender. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus.
Seed – this is a hybrid species and the seed will not breed true. It is best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn and given artificial light. Alternatively sow the seed in a lightly shaded part of the warm greenhouse in late winter or in a cold greenhouse in April. Surface-sow the seed and do not allow the compost to become dry. Pot up the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a greenhouse for at least the first winter. Layering in late July. Takes 15 – 24 months. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, August in a frame. Difficult
Medicinal Uses: Not yet known.
Other Uses: Rhododendron x praecox is very tolerant of trimming, plants can be grown as a hedge.
This reliable hybrid is suitable for almost any garden. It may even be used in an alpine garden due to its loose habit and low space and soil requirements. A nice effect can be achieved when put next to daffodils flowering at the same time.
Known Hazards: Although no specific mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where many members have poisonous leaves. The pollen of many if not all species of rhododendrons is also probably toxic, being said to cause intoxication when eaten in large quantities.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
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