I saw plant of the week – rhododendron orbiculare a month or so ago, without knowing what it was. Did some research but didn’t find what I was looking for. Then yesterday when visiting the local botanical garden I happened to stumble across it, with name tag and all giving me just the information I was after. How brill.
Plant of the week – Rhododendron orbiculare
So what’s so special about this plant? The lead is in the popular name – round-leaved rhododenron. Other species of this family have oblong, oval leaves. I find the round leaves pretty much perfect, the smooth edge and the flatish shape is unusual. Add to that a trendy eucalyptus green colour.
On top of those attractive features I haven’t yet mentioned the blooms (not yet seen live). The bell-shaped rose-pink flowers certainly look good to me. In the enclosed photos you can see that the plant is getting itself ready to flaunt its beauty come spring. Which feels a long way off, but never mind.
This particular plant was located in a fairly shady spot. The recommended location is full sun to partial shade. I did read somewhere that if there’s too much shade the “legs” of the plant turn spindly. I interpret that as there won’t be too many leaves down below. This plant showed that sign. So more sun than shade (sheltered too) seems a good location. As with other rhododendrons it likes acid soil that is moist but well-drained.
Ultimate height is around 3-4 metres, it’s considered low maintenance requiring little pruning. Being evergreen it’s suitable for hedging and screens. I could see this plant in both a formal and an informal garden. It’s native to China and has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit. Hardy to USDA zone 7-9.