I'm currently in the process of packing and preparing for my move home to Washington State at the end of the week, but I noticed my Rhododendron 'Periwinkle' blooming its little head off. This plant has been in several posts already, with only 3 or 4 blooms. What can I say? It's hard to ignore these fiery orange flowers. But in the last couple days it's really started to put on a show. So I wanted to share it with you before it gets packed up and likely drops its flowers during the 6 day journey across the country. Hopefully this little rhody (and all its friends) make the trip without too much stress. Please, Mother Nature, can I get a few days without freaky late-winter/early-spring weather? March 28th to April 4th would be great, thanks.
'Periwinkle' is a hybrid of the tropical section Vireya. In most of the United States, except Hawaii and parts of California and Florida, these plants need to be kept indoors in winter. Many vireyas, as they are commonly called, grow as epiphytes or on steep banks in nature, and require excellent drainage in cultivation. I am currently using a mix of Perlite and coconut husk chips, and while 'Periwinkle' seems perfectly fine with whatever I give it, I've noticed some slight chlorosis on a couple of my other vireyas, so I plan to repot them into a mix with lower ph after I move.
As beautiful as it is, I think I would have gotten more blooms if I hadn't pinched it back about a year ago. I was trying to make it branch to become fuller, but the timing was off. It was starting to form flower buds, rather than going into a growth period, so I just nipped it in the (flower) bud and didn't really trigger much branching. Because I interrupted the bloom and growth cycle, it didn't form as many flower buds for this blooming as I think it could have. Once it finishes blooming this time, I plan to cut it back a bit to help improve its shape. It's rather bare on one side (which doesn't show because of the camera angle) and needs some training for better balance, form, and fullness.
This is the first of my 9 vireyas to bloom, and this is its second time blooming. This group of plants is perhaps my biggest obsession currently (second to hardy Rhododendrons) and I plan to make a trip to the vireya specialty nursery, Bovees Nursery in Portland, OR as soon as I can after the move.
Not that I've been posting frequently, anyway, but don't expect much for the next couple weeks. This week is packing, next week is driving across the country, neither of which are conducive to blogging (though the drive could provide some posts once I reach my destination. After I get settled back in Washington, I hope to write and post more frequently than I have been.
See you on the other side...of the country, that is.