This is a member of the triflora subsection of rhododendrons, all of whom are known for their graceful, willowy habits. R. zaleucum is distinguished by the glaucous or nearly white underside of the leaf. Zaleucum means “very white.” The flowers are white flushed with pastels. (Please disregard the blue cast to the flower picture; it should be more white). The leaves are aromatic, especially when crushed. The early growth is often reddish or bronzy.
This plant will take plenty of sun, bloom easily, and make a distinctive addition to your rhody garden.
We were surprised and thrilled to see R. zaleucum as we descended into the Irrawadi drainage basin of Western China. They lived in gorgeous puffs of well-rounded shrubbery.
This rhododendron will like a sunny spot, small amounts of fertilizer on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, gentle watering, and well-aerated soil with good drainage. It’s hardy for western Washington except in the coldest areas. Enjoy!