R. thomsonii

Here’s an upright shrub or small tree whose smooth and peeling bark comes in shades of reddish brown and gray. It produces bright red flowers.

Named for Thomas Thomson (1817 – 1878), superintendent of the Calcutta Botanic Garden, this plant has been in cultivation in western gardens since 1850. Its native habitat is Northern India, Tibet and Sikkim.

It prefers shelter from winds and can take a fair amount of sun.

The rounded leaves make it distinct from most other rhododendrons. Our plants were raised from seed collected in Sikkim and grown here in Western Washington.

This rhododendron will like partial shade, small amounts of fertilizer on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, gentle watering, well aerated soil with good drainage and protection from the wind.