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Species Rhododendrons Descriptions By Name
R. elegantulum

R.elegantulum  is indeed elegant.  Here’s a plant that has it all – a wonderfully rounded, well-clothed habit on a smaller slow-growing plant, the leaves of which have a wonderful, dense, wooly, cinnamon-rusty-red indumentum (underside). Those leaves are narrow and long The new shoots are covered with a dense wool and the flowers are a soft pink, often with darker spots. 


This is a rare plant that is only occasionally available, but is well worth an honored spot in your garden. R. elegantulum will take a fair amount of sun, but wants good drainage.  It may seem scraggly as a youngster, but it will mature into a prized specimen.  It’s hardy to -5°F.  You can expect it to reach three to four feet in ten years.

R. erosum

R. erosum has it all – bright red flowers in February or March, cordate (heart-shaped) leaves where they meet the petiole, hairs on the stems, fancy bracts on those stems as they emerge, bronzy leaves as they first develop, changing into rugose dark green leaves later in the season. A real winner. Oh yes, did I mention the smooth red, purple and gray trunk that develops with age? It’s taller than wide; 25+ years  it’s a tree. It will grow to 5 feet in 10 years.

Give it a mix of sun and shade, small amounts of fertilizer on Valentine’s and Mother’s Day with consistent gentle watering. Well aerated soil with good drainage helps keep R. erosum happy. It’s hardy to approximately 5° F.

R. excellens

This tropical rhododendron is native to China and North Vietnam.  Its distinctive large leaves have a goldish/grey appearance and frame white tubular fragrant flowers in May, June, and possibly July.  The flowers can reach a length of 4 inches and have wonderful pastel shadings in the throat.  The anthers extend to the edge of the flower and are a stunning black.

It will want protection from winter frost, so you might grow it in a large pot and bring into the garage on the coldest winter days.  It’s worth the effort!!

R. eximeum

Eximium means excellent and the big leaves of this plant are just that!  Rich golden orange indumentum (undercover of leaves) is a joy.  Flowers come in trusses of from 12 to 25 lovely cream-colored to white blooms.  It could grow to a tree of 5 – 8 feet in 10 years.


We estimate it to be hardy to 15° Fahrenheit. This excellent big leaf plant will look great in your woodland garden or can make a fine container plant.

R. facetum

We saw these plants in China where R. facetum rhododendron plants sometimes grow into forests of small trees.  The day the seed was collected, R. facetum’s bright, red flowers were literally glowing through the fog.  This Chinese beauty has recently been reintroduced to North America.  This plant was grown here on the Olympic Peninsula, where conditions match the Chinese environment. 

R. facetum’s new spring growth is covered with a tawny indumentum that streams away in the wind. Later, the deep red flowers come in bunches of 12 to 20 compact blooms. It is late flowering (June – August) and needs some protection from the sun.   Hardy to 10° F. Enjoy!

R. falconeri

R. falconeri is truly a majestic “big leaf’’ rhododendron.  Its tough leathery leaves can reach 12” and have a yellow mid-rib that contrasts with the dark green.  Underneath, the leaves are covered with an orange brown indumentum.


The flowers are a pale yellow – sometimes 20 -25 in a truss.  They have a purple blotch in the throat.  R. falconeri comes from the south side of the Himalayas in Sikkim, Nepal and Tibet.

R. falconeri likes a woodland setting best.  High overhead shade is perfect.  The dappled sun will keep it from getting sunburned. It is hardy to 15°F, so be prepared to protect it if necessary.

R. farinosum

R. farinosum is a newly “re-discovered” species from Yunnan that should be a winner because of its rugose leaves and its diminutive stature – probably 3 to 4 feet max! It seems to be a small version of R. wiltonii and therefore most likely belongs in the Taliensia Series, a group of plants noted for their outstanding characteristics. But there’s more! What would a Taliensia be without indumentum? R. farinosum obliges with a solid covering of white or tan hairs that adds more interest.

R. faucium

The parents of this plant grow wild at great heights in SE Tibet where we were delighted by their beauty.


Here’s a plant to grow for its bark.  A wonderful, peeling, smooth, reddish-brown trunk will remind you of our native madrone.   Leaves are smooth and about 3 – 5 inches long with blunt tips.

The bright pink flowers are just a bonus on this “a-peeling” rhody.  It will grow to a large shrub or small tree in your woodland garden.

R. fictolacteum see R. rex ssp. fictolacteum
R. flinckii

R. flinckii is one of those wonderfully indumented plants from subsection Lanata.  Leaves are coated with a thick orange on the bottom and a whitish covering on top.  It comes from Bhutan. 


Flowers are such a light yellow that they appear white.  It’s easier to grow than its close relative R. lanatum and makes an outstanding statement in any garden.

R. flinckii might reach four feet tall in ten years, but it will always be a well behaved, demure shrub that demands attention. 


It wants light but not prolonged direct sun, so a mix of sun and shade is perfect.  Small amounts of fertilizer on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day will keep it happy.

R. floccigerum

R.floccigerum is noted for the patchy indumentum on the underside of its leaf.  The plant itself adds interest to any garden with its long, narrow, pointed leaves.  Flowers cover a wide range of colors from pale yellow to red with many bi-colors in between. It is native to Yunnan, Tibet and Upper Burma. It may reach four feet in ten years.

Give it filtered sun and good draiage as well as the usual Valentines Day and Mothers' Day presents.

R. fortunei

R. fortunei is native to many parts of China, and we are still finding  new forms in the wild. It’s vigorous, upright, and a good do-er in our growing conditions. The stem of the leaf (the petiole) is sometimes purplish or reddish. The flowers are pink and FRAGRANT!

This is a stately plant that out- performs many of the hybrids of which it is a parent.  It' most famous hybrid is the Loderi series, where R. fortunei  served as dad. Over time it can become a large mound or small tree -  say six feet in ten years. Enjoy!

R. fulgens

This beautifully rounded evergreen bush has wonderful round balls of  8 – 14 small red tubular flowers. The light coating of indumentum on the undersides of the leaves is a lovely feature of this compact shrub.


This early bloomer grows in Nepal and Tibet; ours has reached four feet in ten years. 

R. fulgens makes its own statement by combining leaf interest with structural interest.  Its trunk will provide smooth pinkish gray to reddish brown peeling bark. It’s hardy to 5°Fahrenheit.

R. fulvoides

R. fulvoides  has, until now, been the ugly step child of the Subsection Fulva of the Subgenus Hymananthes group, mostly because its indumentum has been considered coarse and granular. Balderdash! Mostly, we have failed to pay attention to a stunning plant whose leaves carry the day, top and bottom – glossy, stately, regal, with an indumentum worthy of respect. (It always causes visitors to the garden to ask, “What’s this?).

R. fulvoides makes a well-rounded shrub of perhaps five feet in ten years and is quite hardy. Its flowers are a soft pink to white carried in a well-composed truss. Here’s a dark horse worthy of a spot in your garden.

R. fulvum

R. fulvum makes a bush often clothed to the ground with leathery dark green leaves that curl down at the edges, especially in bright sun or extreme cold. 


“Fulvum” is Latin for “tawny” and the underside of its leaves are covered with an orange indumentum that makes this plant great.  Its soft pink or white flowers in early spring are an added bonus!

This species rhododendron comes from the eastern Himalayas.  Here in the Northwest, it may grow to six feet in ten years.  It will be bushier in mixed shade and sun, more tree-like in the shade.

R. fuyuanense

This is the first introduction of this species into the Western world. It comes from eastern Yunnan and is most likely related to R. racemosum. Like its cousin, this rhododendron blooms at an early age in shades of pink and white. The leaves are small (about one inch long), recurved and have ciliate (hairy) margins. It seems to respond well to pruning, so keeping it small and bushy is a real possibility.

R. fuyuanense will like more sun than shade. In the wild it seems to range between an 18 inch mini to a 6 foot shrub. Since it responds to pruning, we suspect the choice is yours. It appears to be reliably hardy in the Puget Sound area.

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