R. qiaojiaense

First a Mandarin lesson: this rhody’s name is pronounced chow-ja-en-se. Next, the plant is a winner. The almost orbicular leaves have a thick texture, and the plant seems to branch readily, making what should be a compact, rounded garden beauty. In the subsection Fortunea, it is most likely closely related to R. decorum, so it belongs to a distinguished branch of fine rhododendrons. It will most likely bloom white and be fragrant.

Only recently introduced from Yunnan, China, it is too soon to know how tall it will grow in our NW climate. In its native habitat it grows between six to twelve feet tall, probably somewhat less here.

It’s best grown in a mix of sun and shade, with relief from hot afternoon sun. It will enjoy small amounts of fertilizer on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, gentle watering and well-drained soil.

The new growth often has the bronze color shown in our photograph. R. qiaojiaense seems to be easy to grow.