JARS v57n3 - Rhododendron of the Year Awards, 2003

Rhododendron of the Year Awards, 2003
Laura Kentala
Plant Awards Committee, Chair
Kirkland, Washington

The ARS Plant Awards Committee has selected the Rhododendron of the Year awards for 2003. Because of climate differences, the committee selected plants for six regions: Northeastern, Mid Atlantic, Southeastern, Midwestern, Northwestern and Southwestern. The Swisher Award is given to a vireya rhododendron.

The first criterion was that the plant perform well in the region, even for a novice. the plant had to exhibit good form, foliage and flowers, to prove itself cold and heat hardy for the region, and to show resistance to pests and diseases. In addition, the plant had to be available in the nursery trade.

In this issue the choices for the Southeastern and Midwestern regions are shown. The Journal welcomes photos of upcoming Rhododendron of the Year plants.

* Name is not registered.


R. 'Anna Rose Whitney' R. PJM Group
Elepidote: Elepidote: 'Anna Rose Whitney'. This plant grows vigorously and quickly
to a very large upright and well-shaped plant. Leaves are long and matte
olive green. Flowers are deep rose pink in large trusses.
Photo by Mary Parrish
Lepidote: PJM Group. This group is cold hardy and tolerant of heat and sun. Small elliptic leaves
are green in the summer and mahogany colored in winter. Shrub is 3½' tall x 4' wide
in 10 years. It bears flowers of lilac purple to light violet.
Photo by Harold Greer
R. 'Midnight Flare'* R. prunifolium
Evergreen Azalea: 'Midnight Flare'*. 'Midnight Flare' is a Harris hybrid hardy
to USDA Zone 7. It bears large single flowers of deep red and has a
mounded habit. Foliage changes to maroon in the fall.
Photo by Harry Weiskittel
Deciduous Azalea: R. prunifolium . The species is a native eastern azalea.
It flowers in July and August. Flower colors can be coral-orange to
deep red with a darker red blotch on the upper lobe.
Photo by Harold Greer


R. 'Brown Eyes' R. 'Olga Mezitt'
Elepidote: 'Brown Eyes'. It is an excellent plant for the hot spot in your garden.
Showy flowers are melon pink with golden brown flares.
Photo by Harold Greer
Lepidote: 'Olga Mezitt'. Its leaves are mahogany in the winter and olive green in the summer.
They are just part of what makes this plant appealing. Small, tight balls of purplish pink
cover every terminal of this plant during bloom. A Mezitt hybrid.
Photo by Harold Greer
R. 'Girard's Rose' R. 'Golden Lights'
Evergreen Azalea: 'Girard's Rose'. This plant has deep pink flowers with reverse side that
is deep yellowish pink. Lobes are wavy. It can grow 2' by 2'. Leaves are
reddish orange in winter. Hardy to –10°F.
Photo by Girard's Nursery
Deciduous Azalea: 'Golden Lights'. Fragrant flowers are light orange-yellow with
strong orange-yellow blotch, upper lobes frilled and lower lobes wavy.
Plants grow 33" wide by 52" high in six years.
Photo by Harold Greer