QBARS - v30n3 If Red is Your Color

Dennis MacMullan, Greenwich, Connecticut
Reprinted from the New York Chapter Newsletter

With the majority of rhododendrons growing in our (Long Island, Westchester and Connecticut) gardens flowering in various shades of pink, it occurs to me that many gardeners share my liking for reds that might be tried, if they are not already being successfully grown in your garden.

I have a particular fondness for clear, pure reds, without any blue in the flower. For those who share this feeling, the following symbols will be used in describing the color:

LR = Light Red
MR = Medium Red
DR = Dark Red
P = Tends to be clear
B = Contains "bluish" pigment

As always, D, M, T are symbols that allude to the size of the plant at maturity. (dwarf, medium, tall)

'Scarlet Wonder' (H-2) DR, P, D - excellent Hobbie cross with fine plant character. If you don't grow it now, do.
'Elisabeth Hobbie' (H-2) DR-MR, P, D - M as above; a little larger in all parts.
R. gymnocarpum (H-2, 3) DR, P, D - lightly indumented Taliense (probably should be reclassified in the Sanguineum Series). Can stand heat.
'Red Velvet' (H-2) MR-DR, P, M - Dexter with excellent truss. Fine plant habit; compact.
'Jean Marie de Montague' (H-2-3) MR, P, T - hardier than classified (H-3) and definitely heat tolerant, especially forĀ a good red. Flowers in Mid-May. Good parent, being used more by West Coast hybridizers.
'Vulcan' (H-2) MR, P?, M - excellent red for our climate. Reciprocal cross (Vulcan's Flame) better in all its parts, but slightly more tender (H-3).
R. sanguineum
R. forrestii var. repens
R. beanianum
(H-3) DR, P, D - all are worth trying in sheltered areas which are shady and moist. These plants are worth the effort if kept from too much summer heat and winter wind. Try them, you'll like them.
'Little Flame' (H-3) MR, P, D - Hardgrove cross that is very dwarf with need for protection from afternoon sun.
'Guy Nearing' (H-2, 3) MR, B, M-T - raised by Al Raustein and recently named. Nice truss, beautiful foliage plant.
'Carmen' (H-3) DR, P, D - repens hybrid which is charming, but must be grown as R. forrestii var. repens . Worth the effort.
'Elizabeth' (H-3) MR, P?, D-M - there is a finer form than originally available (Wissellii Form) that is much more compact. Tends to bloom in the fall. Can stand considerable sun and heat.
'Leo' (H-3) MR, P, M - good habit, late flowering.
'Mars' (H-2) DR, P, M - fine waxy flower, good truss.
'Reve Rose' (H-3) MR, P?, D - Rose red. Needs protection from afternoon sun to perform well. Compact and free-flowering.
'Tony' (H-2) MR, B; M - Shammarello of good habit. Catawbiense parentage passes on the "blue" to the flower.
'Wilgen's Ruby' (H-2) DR, B, M - loose-growing with colorful fall foliage.

Most of the more common "reds" have been omitted since most of the Chapter members are growing them. I have included those with which I am familiar and intend no dishonor to those other fine plants which I have not included. Caveat emptor.

Dennis MacMullan gardens on a hillside in Connecticut. Articles on his extensive collection of Dwarf and Species Rhododendrons have appeared in our Newsletter before. Please note that since we have had wet and light winters of late, repens and its derivatives - Hobbies - (H-3) have done well. Problems could arise, if the Gods of Eastern weather become angry again.