JARS v54n4 - Let's Talk Hybridizing

Let's Talk Hybridizing
Tony Suffeleers
Hasselt, Belgium

I have been a member of the ARS, Dutch Chapter, for approximately ten years, and as my hobby (I am an early retired electronic-technician) I have been hybridizing rhododendrons since 1976.

I currently have over 1,000 selected, first-class rhododendron hybrids in all kinds of colors, fragrances, shapes and blossom times. These cultivars are not available on the market. You can only admire them at my own private rhododendron park at my home in Hasselt.

R. 'Madame Denise Suffeleers'
Tony Suffeleers with his hybrid 'Madame Denise Suffeleers'* (F2 x F2). The flowers are
120 mm (5 in) to 130 mm (5.4 in) wide, and the truss is 200 mm (8.3 in) high
and 220 mm (9 in) wide. The throat blotch is 40 mm (1.6 in) wide.
Photo courtesy of Tony Suffeleers

Upon control in February 2000, a few Rhododendron wardii hybrids were showing their very first flower buds. Although the soil condition at that very spot is rather poor, these buds were exceptionally big, measuring no less than 30 mm (1.3 in) wide, 65 mm (2.7 in) high.

R. 'Suffeleers Arabian Brunett'
'Suffeleers Arabian Brunett'* (Suffeleers hybrid ['Scolia' x hybrid] x 'Suffeleers Charmeur'
[( R. wardii hybrid x R. dichroanthum ) x R. catawbiense hybrid]). Flowers are 85 mm
(3.5 in) wide, and trusses are 140 mm (5.8 in) high and 150 mm (6.2 in) wide.
Photo courtesy of Tony Suffeleers

As far as the fragrant rhododendrons are concerned, I would like to mention two rhododendrons with fragrances so unique that is is worthwhile to give some specifications. First of all, there is rhododendron No. 1445, with the name 'Parfum de Rose'*, with a rose perfume (hence the name), which is a totally uncommon fragrance for a rhododendron. The color is pale pink with a big red throat blotch. This hybrid blooms in May-June during one month. Then there is rhododendron No. 1636 with the name 'Gold Parfum'*, with a pleasant vanilla fragrance. The color is bright and deep canary yellow, non-fading and blooming the end of May-June for three to four weeks. These flowers don't wilt; they drop freshly from the trusses to form a bountiful flower-carpet on the ground.

My future plans include the cultivation of a completely new kind of rhododendron hybrid. The first generation of seedlings of this newcomer is now five years old, the second generation a year old, and seeds of the next generation taken the fall of 1999. A mix of these three or more will create a new and spectacular variety - beautiful and colorful during the full year and one that has never been seen before. This will be my own "dream come true."

* Name is unregistered.