Rhododendron 'Dr. Herman Sleumer' x R. zoelleri
J. P. Evans, M.D., Oakland, California
'Dr. Herman Sleumer' x R. zoelleri
Photo by J. P. Evans, MD
The color picture was taken in December of 1974 of the first flowering of an exciting new hybrid grown from seed by Pete Sullivan, at Strybing Arboretum. Tom Lelliott of Australia made the cross in 1969 using as the seed parent a fine natural hybrid of R. phaeopeplum x R. zoelleri. Dr. H. Sleumer had given this to him as a cutting on his return from the Arfak Mountain region of West Irian at the conclusion of his New Guinea field work. The plant was subsequently named by Mr. Lelliott as R. 'Dr. Sleumer'. The pollen parent was a select form of R. zoelleri.
For the past two years this seedling hybrid has been grown out in the garden as a compact, multi-branched, vigorous plant blooming from seed in five years. The trusses have spectacular color and brilliance, along with fragrance which came from its R. phaeopeplum ancestry. There are six or seven corollas per truss that are funnel-shaped and are 6 cm. in depth by 7.5 cm. across the tube. The foliage primarily that of R. zoelleri.
I cannot help but feel, as I see the numerous new and exciting Vireya species and hybrids bloom at Strybing, that in the next few years there will be a demand for them as atrium or greenhouse plants in colder climates. They could provide excellent new material as houseplants or commercial greenhouse plants.