R. strigillosum

Although introduced to England from Sichuan in 1904, this plant has been relatively hard to find here in Washington because the many hybrids made from this species have been touted as better than Mother Nature herself. We beg to differ. With its bright red flowers emerging in March, it is a wonderful announcement of spring’s arrival. It can remain a robust shrub, growing to five feet or so in ten years. It makes a fully clothed mound if grown in an open, fairly sunny spot.

The leaves are 3 – 7 inches long but not very broad, so that they look like bright green spikes and are distinctively attractive. The leaf stalks have soft hairs that are visible even on the older branches.

The flowers are long and bell-shaped in a clear, luminous red that is exceptionally brilliant.

This rhododendron will like: Light shade – small amounts of fertilizer on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day – gentle watering – well-aerated soil.