What Is the difference between a Species Rhododendron and a Hybrid?
This column was prepared by the staff at the award winning West Seattle Nursery. The Nursery is open for shopping, and they offer an array of trees, shrubs, bedding plants, garden supplies, decor and gift items. They are located at 5275 California Ave SW and you can find them online at https://www.westseattlenursery.com
Most of the rhododendrons you see in Seattle are hybrids. They are the result of cross-breeding done to produce plants of certain sizes, with certain leaf textures and flower colors.
Species rhododendrons are native plants - no grafting or cross-pollenization. What you see is what nature intended. The state flower of Washington state, Rhododendron macrophyllum, is an example. Other names for this plant are California rosebay and big leaf rhododendron. This rhodie is drought tolerant and likes more sun than other varieties. If you plant one, give it an open spot with dappled light.
Species rhododendrons can be found on every continent in the world, except Antarctica. If you would like to see more examples of these beautiful shrubs, April and May are excellent months to visit the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in Federal Way. The garden features rhododendrons from around the world in a woodland setting, a blue poppy meadow that blooms in spring, and a tropical conservatory.