Rhododendron of the Year

By Susan Littlefield

Rhododendrons and azaleas (both members of the genus Rhododendron) have some of the loveliest blooms around, so it's not surprising that these shrubs are popular plants across the country. But there are so many different species and cultivars to choose from, and growing conditions vary so widely from one part of the country to another. How to choose the best members of this broad genus for your area?

The American Rhododendron Society helps with the selection process by offering its 2012 Rhododendron of the Year Awards. For each of eight geographic regions of the country -- Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Northwest, South Central, Southeast, Southwest, and Southern California-Hawaii -- the Society's Plant Award Committee has chosen four members of the Rhododendron genus, including an elepidote (large-leaved) and a lepidote (small-leaved) rhododendron and a deciduous and an evergreen azalea. (For the warm weather Hawaii/Southern California region, a vireya rhododendron has been selected.) Each plant selected displays excellent foliage and flowers, has an attractive plant habit, is hardy in the specific region, and is pest and disease resistant.

The American Rhododendron Society's website also offers information on growing and propagating rhododendrons and azaleas, a rhododendron blog, photo gallery, nursery finder and much more.

To find out more about the 2012 Rhododendron of the Year Awards, past winners, and all the American Rhododendron Society has to offer, go to: American Rhododendron Society.

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