R. watsonii is a rarely seen “big leaf” rhodie that stays compact! It has a short flattened petiole (the part that attaches the leaf to the stem) that is yellow. The yellow then continues down the midrib of the leaf, giving a sort of striped effect. The underside of the leaf sports a plastered silvery-white indumentum that can take years to develop. Flowers are white, perhaps tinged pink, and are small in comparison to the leaf. Once again, species are about the plant, not just the flowers.
Our plants of R. watsonii are grown from seed collected by Bob on a 2009 trip to Sichuan. The moms were about six feet tall, but it was impossible to know how old they were. We can expect the plant to reach four feet or so in ten years.
R. watsonii will appreciate consistent moisture with good drainage, small amounts of fertilizer on Valentine’s Day and Mothers’ Day, and a mix of sun and shade with protection from the hot afternoon sun.
R. watsonii is hardy to approximately 5 F. Hardiness depends on many factors, so use this number as a guide. Mostly, it’s distinct enough to deserve a place in your garden.