Thursday, December 21, 2006

Rhododendron Faisa

In walking about the garden on the shortest day of the year, a day of fog and shadows, the lepidote rhododendrons continue to be interesting to look at, with a variety of leaves and plant habits. One of the finest in terms of habit is Rhododendron Faisa; it's winter foliage is shown in the top picture, its spring flowering in the lower picture. Many of the lepidote rhododendrons, coming from climates where hugging the ground, often under the snow, is essential for survival, have low, widely branching forms. Here in Iowa we have to grow our rhodys in a bit more shade than they would like, due to our hot summer sun, so some of the lepidotes in my garden get a bit... shall we say scraggly? Faisa is a fine exception, maintaining a stiff upright form, with crisp foliage and it is rock hardy here, in both leaf and bud. From its parentage, I'm rather surprised it does so well here. It is a hybrid of R. minus Carolinianum (specifically a selected, compact pink clone of minus named Achiever) and R. polycladum Scintillans group. R. minus is a native of the eastern U.S., with the group Carolinianum being the northern strain of minus; lower in stature and more winter hardy, but then not known for loving hot summers. R. polycladum is a short and very small leaved species from the alpine meadows of Yunan, and is of the subsection lapponica; lapponicas are small rhododendrons from high elevations or high latitudes, with small leaves and small lavender flowers, notorious for their abhorence of hot summers. One would think a hybrid of these two species would melt here in August; I do see some leaf wilting on hot, dry afternoons, but Faisa bounces back nicely (I would also think Faisa would turn up its toes in our winters, because polycladum is rated hardy only to zone 8). However, it thrives here and will grow about four feet high and three feet wide, and its flowers are a hard to describe smoky lavender. Rhododendron fanciers always talk about "good doers"; Faisa is certainly that for me. Posted by Picasa

Hey - two pictures! Looks like something is working right.

Now that I've learned the Twin Cities are on the edge of the new zones 4 and 5, maybe I can start looking less longingly and more purposefully at some of your beautiful plants for my garden.

I'm still quite enamored of the fact that we've moved up a zone (and also unsettled by this very obvious example of global warming). To see the new zone map, go to
Tracy... I must confess, I'm selfishly ambiguous about global warming. I first gardened in northern Iowa, in an ice-bowl river valley, and grew lots of lepidote rhodys, as well as lots of other things.
Tracy... by the way; o.k., I posted two pictures at once, but how do I get some seperation between them? I actually typed the text between the pictures, but when I posted, the text went to the bottom, and the pictures right next to each other at the top. Maybe I need to edit after they've been uploaded to the blog???
Ok, so if I was to want to purchase one of those Rhodos, what would their common name be, Don? Would one find them in a local nursery?

When you are uploading your photos, do you have a format checked? It will default to whatever format you have checked, ie: left, center, etc....
Sissy... well, for Faisa, that's its given name; look under lepidote rhodys... if you want to check some out, you could look at Rarefinds nursry site, for example,and check out the lepidotes, or go to the Rosebay or Niagra rhododendron Society sites for nice pictures. If you don't already have it, PJM is the prototype lepidote rhody, growable almost everywhere, and sold cheap at box stores; grow one of those successfully first, then branch out. Hmmm... formatting, huh? Is that something you can do with a pencil and a piece of paper?
Now you got me started on these PJMs...I learned about the man who hybridized it and so on.
The Monrovia site, (overpriced, I know, but relaible in the south!)says this:This rugged little fellow promises to perform even where the climate is on the warm side for most Rhododendron. An excellent foundation shrub that won`t exceed five feet tall; a natural for covering up unsightly stemwalls, footings and utilities.
Do you think it would do well in a Zone 5 Northern exposure, quite dry unless I drag the hose?
one more question, please!!
Do you have any of these, or can you speak to their hardiness?
Bixby, red, -20F, 2'
Helen Curtis, white, -20F, 2'
Hino-red, red, -20F, 1'
Hino-white, white, -20F, 1'
Would you please email me with the response? I always forget where I posted the questions and can never find the answers!!
I am the anonymous poster here, too, for some reason!!
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?