JARS 43n3 - Rhododendron 'Ecstacy' And Her Sisters

Rhododendron 'Ecstacy' And Her Sisters
Mark Konrad, M.D.
Sewickley, Pennsylvania

The art of hybridizing entails a quest for outstanding parent plants, which when crossed produce exceptional children. Unfortunately, an inordinate amount of time is often involved and the desired result is not easily obtained. There is one way to shorten the process and that is through sharing information.
With this in mind, I would like to bring to your attention two parents who have produced some very beautiful children. These parents are 'Janet Blair' and 'Mary Belle'. A cross between them was made approximately ten years ago. All of the eight remaining siblings seem to have merit, but three deserve special attention.

R. 'Ecstacy'
Photo by Mark Konrad

The first of these is 'Ecstacy' which has flowers with beautiful diffuse pigmentation creating an orchid-like quality. The second is 'Showtime' with flowers that fade to an attractive peach color. The third is 'Radiance' with flowers that fade to an attractive golden-bronze color. All three plants have nice foliage, are thrifty growers and seem to be reasonably plant and bud hardy for the climate of southwestern Pennsylvania.

R. 'Showtime'
Photo by Mark Konrad

I believe the success of this cross demonstrates an approach to hybridizing that has a very practical application. Choose beautiful plants in your own garden as parents. Use plants that have proven their thriftiness, those with implied genetic and environmental compatibility and some of the pitfalls of hybridizing will be lessened. If the diversity of the parents' genetic makeup is too great, the chances of success are greatly diminished. This is especially important considering the time and effort involved.
Other members of the Society have mentioned 'Janet Blair' and 'Mary Belle' as good parents. My experience gives a further vote of confidence to these two lovely ladies.

Dr. Konrad, Great Lakes Chapter member, has contributed many articles to the ARS Journal. His most recent was "A Marriage Made In Heaven," Winter 1989.