Rhododendron Evaluation Check List
Ted Van Veen. Portland, OR
Such a gorgeous flower! But is your new rhododendron seedling superior? How does it compare with a variety already in commerce? Here are some characteristics for evaluation to determine if your new seedling will make the hit parade.
- Ease of Rooting - If it won't root, or is too difficult, it will have little chance in the popularity contest.
- Good Root Development - A weak root system is the basis for many problems.
- Plant Growth Habit - Symmetry and fullness of branching (foliage which holds for three years), with a minimum of grower effort.
- Plant Vigor - Strong, healthy plants mean minimum loss for the commercial grower.
- Branch Brittleness - Undesirable for snow-load breakage and shipping damage.
- Disease Resistance - Immunity to root rot, die-back and foliage disorders.
- Pest Resistant - Root weevil and rabbits have their favorites.
- Virus-free - Witches'-broom, leaf spotting and variegations are not attractive.
- Fertilizer Tolerance - Efficient commercial growing necessitates uniform fertilizing practices without foliage discoloration or death to the plant.
- Cold Hardiness - Degree of hardiness will dictate degree of potential distribution.
- Heat Tolerance - An important factor in many regions.
- Sun Tolerance - For more universal landscape use.
- Foliage Color - Plants with pale, chlorotic leaves are not good sellers.
- Foliage Growth Habit - Some twists and leaf curls are a detraction.
- Foliage Substance - Tissue-paper leaves are targets for pests, disease and weather damage.
- Buds Easily - Without smothering with triple super-phosphate and growing in full sun.
- Buds Early in Life - Second or third year from cuttings, for economical production.
- Buds Well - Production of many large attractive buds year after year denotes a winner.
- Buds Early Season - Flower buds formed too late will be killed by early fall frost.
- Fall Bloomer - Flowers opening in a warm autumn will be lost from the spring showing.
- Blooming Time - Too early or too late blooming are novelties only. They will not earn the big money.
- Blooms After New Growth - Flowers peeking through foliage carry no impact.
- Flower Texture - Heavy substance is required for color endurance in rain or shine.
- Truss Structure - Even, full flowered trusses in proportion to the plant are more popular than loose, dangling bells.
- Flower Color - May appeal to you, but will the public buy it?