R. 'Lem's Cameo' SPA
E. C. Brockenbrough, Bellevue, Washington
Those who attend the Annual Meeting this spring will have the opportunity of seeing many of the Northwest's finest new hybrids, as well as those long-sought-after plants that are just now becoming available through local nurseries. 'Lem's Cameo' SPA is one such plant, and since more people are beginning to grow it I thought that a few comments on its culture would be in order.
In addition to the usual soil requirements common to most rhododendrons, 'Lem's Cameo' SPA not only tolerates, but seems to require heavier applications of fertilizer than other hybrids. I say this guardedly because I believe there is a general tendency to over fertilize rhododendrons. Within reason, however, quantities of fertilizer which would be damaging to many rhododendrons will cause 'Lem's Cameo' SPA to thrive.
Next, this hybrid is such a prodigal bloomer that disbudding is often essential to insure continued plant vigor and large trusses. I have found this problem can be nicely handled by growing the plant in more shade than sun. It will not set buds quite so heavily and both foliage and bloom will be larger.
Finally, for those who are making some "armchair" crosses this winter, consider the virtues of 'Lem's Cameo' SPA as a possible parent. Huge trusses with a high floret count, modest stature, stout branches, and precocious blooming are among its desirable characteristics. I have made several crosses with it and the preliminary results look promising. The seedlings have attractive foliage on plants of restrained size and seem to set bud at an early age. The few that have bloomed to date have supported my hunch. (See Quarterly Bulletin ARS, 25:228, 1971).