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Rhododendron of the Year Plant Awards: 2018

South Central USA Region

R. smirnowii

Elepidote Rhododendron: R. smirnowii

Flower pink to rose-purple, spotted yellow to brown, funnel-campanulate shaped.  Truss holds 6-15 flowers.  Blooms late midseason.  Leaves oblanceolate to elliptic, up to 7" long, margins re-curved, pale fawn to pale brown indumentum.  Compact bush, more upright when growing in shade.  Typical height: 4 ft. in 10 years.  Plant is cold hardy to -15F (-26C).  Native species found in Europe in northeastern Turkey and adjacent Georgia.  In the Caucasus Mountains it is found growing at 1500 - 2300 m., often at the edge of spruce forests or just above the tree line.

R. 'Olga Mezitt'

Lepidote Rhododendron: 'Olga Mezitt'

Flower light purplish pink with inconspicuous gold green blotch that ages to reddish brown, openly to tubular funnel-shaped, wavy lobes, 1" across.  Dome-shaped trusses hold about 12 flowers.  Blooms early midseason.  Leaves lanceolate shaped with acute apex and cuneate base, convex, 2" long, yellow-green.  Leaves turn mahogany color in winter.  Upright growth habit.  Reaches an approximate height of 3 ft. in 10 years.  Cold hardy to -15F (-26C).  Hybridized by Mezitt.

R. 'Mildred Mae'

Evergreen Azalea: 'Mildred Mae'

Flower moderate purplish-pink with a dark red blotch, single, 2" to 3" across, fragrant.  Inflorescence 2 flowered.  Blooms early midseason.  Leaves elliptic, acute apex and cuneate base, 2" long, light green.  Spreading, low plant habit.  Grows to a typical height of 3 ft. in 10 years.  Cold hardy to -5F (-21C).  Raised to first flower by Gable.

R. austrinum

Deciduous Azalea: R. austrinum

Known variously as the Flame azalea, Florida azalea, or the Florida Flame azalea.  Flower in shades of yellow, gold, and orange, narrowly funnel-shaped, very fragrant.  Blooms early midseason.  Leaves ovate or obovate to elliptic, up to 4" long, deciduous.  Reaches up to 10 ft. in the wild, but will often remain smaller in the garden, with a spread about half its height.  One of the easiest of the native azaleas to grow.  Cold hardy to -15F (-26C).  Very heat tolerant.  Native species found in the Florida panhandle and nearby areas of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

Photos (top to bottom) by Kenneth Cox, Sally and John Perkins, courtesy of Deutsche Genbank Rhododendron, Boris Bauer.

Prior Years Selections for South Central USA Region






















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