JARS v55n4 - Rhododendron 'Futuristic'

Rhododendron "Futuristic"
Dr. Mark Konrad
Sewickley, Pennsylvania

The saga of Rhododendron "Futuristic" began in 1979 when an azaleodendron cross was made between 'Janet Blair', an elepidote, and the deciduous azalea 'Gibraltar'.

Many viable seeds and plants were produced, but only one plant remains. The seed batch produced mostly deciduous plants. The remaining plant is a handsome spreading shrub with elepidote-type leaves.

Until the last two years the flower buds have aborted either from genetic malfunction or cold sensitivity. Then, surprisingly, several stray flowers were produced in the year 2000. The flowers were quite large and a pale creamy yellow color. One cross of the plant was made with 'Bob Bovee' ('Koichiro Wada' x R. wardii ) and one with 'Gibraltar'.

Large seed pods with viable seeds were produced from both crosses. But more seeds of the cross with 'Bob Bovee' were viable. Currently there are fourteen healthy 2-inch seedlings with beautiful elepidote foliage growing from the cross ('Bob Bovee').

Again this year (2001) several stray flowers were produced by the azaleodendron. The 'Bob Bovee' cross was repeated and resulted in the development of an unusually large seed pod. Hope springs eternal.

Until recenlty I thought it was a miracle that bloom occurred after waiting for so many years. Now I'm hoping for another miracle and a "futuristic" orange truss.