Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Thursday, April 24, 2014

My favorite plant in the garden this week is...Rhododendron 'Hino-crimson'

Mass-produced evergreen azaleas are not typically something that a plant geek gets overly excited about. That is, unless the plant geek in question is addicted to the family Ericaceae and can't grow many azaleas because of the deer. 

'Hino-crimson is a dependable, small evergreen azalea in the Kurume hybrid group. It stays small enough to easily be grown in a container on a small deck, making it the perfect azalea for someone like me who lives with deer circling his plants like sharks. 

The flowers are red, with a slightly pinkish hue, roughly 1 inch across and born so profusely that the leaves may virtually disappear when the plant is in full bloom.


Personally, my favorite stage is just before the flowers open, when flowers have expanded out of their bud scales and look like tiny red candle flames.

I seem to remember 'Hino-crimson' not blooming well a few years ago, perhaps the roots were damaged by the PKWs or it just needed some new soil in its pot, but this year it should turn solid red as the blooms open.


It also has a nice, tiered branching habit and tight growth, almost cloud-like (maybe with some judicious pruning it could be trained in a cloud style), giving it more interesting structure than some evergreen azaleas. The red flowers create a classic complement to the blue glaze of the container, and make a wonderful display every spring.

The stats on Rhododendron 'Hino-crimson':
  • Tight growth to 3 feet tall by 4 feet wide
  • USDA zones 5-9
  • Part-sun or dappled shade. Protect from hot afternoon sun
  • Red flowers nearly obscure the leaves but typically drop cleanly or are covered by new growth, so old flowers are not an eyesore
  • Typical soil and moisture for rhododendrons and azaleas. Also makes a good container specimen
My favorite plant this week is hosted by Loree at Danger Garden. Check out what caught other gardeners' eyes this week.

4 comments:

  1. Whoa, that is a mass of color already! Such a bummer about the deer, that must make gardening really disheartening. With most Rhodies I prefer either the almost opened buds, or the new growth when it stands straight up. And of course, if there's indumentum, even better.

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    1. The deer dictate what I can and can't grow more than anything else. It is very difficult and frustrating, especially when they crush something under hoof or tear some newly planted treasure from the ground because they wanted to taste it. But I keep trying. That's what gardening is all about!

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  2. I am firmly in the camp which doesn't appreciate azaleas. However you do present this plant in a most favorable light and I appreciate having my assumptions challenged.

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    1. Hehe, I knew your position on azaleas. The vast majority of evergreen azaleas aren't that interesting to me either, though I'd kill for a Rhododendron oldhamii or one of the multicolored satsuki azaleas. I've seen pictures of a bonsai specimen with flowers completely white or solid coral and every combination of the two.

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