The name, Rhododendron, derives from the Greek rhodon = rose and dendron = tree, or rose tree. Its origin is very ancient: fragments of this plant have been
recovered in China and the Caucasus; however the first written records date back to the sixteenth century.
In Europe it came only in the nineteenth century; English botanists began to produce hybrid species. A significant contribution was provided by
George Forrest, envoy of the Royal Horticultural Society, who during his long stay in Yunnan, discovered varieties not yet known. Because of the fragility of its flowers, al rhododendron The value of fragile enchantment is attributed; some believe it is the emblem of the first declaration of love.
Rhododendron belongs to the Ericaceae family. It is generally a shrub or tree with persistent or deciduous leaves. It should be noted that initially some specimens were referred to as rhododendrons and others like azaleas. Later it was realized that between the two species there were no substantial differences and that they could be classified together. However, they are still referred to differently in the nursery. They are usually called rhododendrons evergreen specimens whose flowers have 10 stamens. Generally (but not a rule) they are medium-large sized specimens suitable mainly for cultivation in open ground.
The azaleas, on the other hand, are mostly deciduous and small in size. In this article we will talk at length about plants generally qualified as Rhododendrons and their cultivation in gardens. We will deepen the azaleas (and in general the cultivation of this type of plant in a container) in another passage.
Description and origins
The Rhododendron genus includes more than 750 species and is very diverse. Many are low, creeping shrubs, others are real trees. The areas of origin are many: from Europe to the Asian mountains to the boreal areas of the American continent. There are also spontaneous ones in Italy. In all the North the r. ferrugineum is popularly called rose of the Alps and is spread precisely from the Alps to the Pyrenees above 1400 meters. In the North-East it is instead common the R. hirsutum.
Evergreen shrub or tree
|Height||From 1 to 30 meters|
|Difficult, especially if not in an ideal environment|
|Ground||Acid (pH 4/5), absolutely free of calcium. The woodland is ideal|
|Irrigation||Abundant, but without stagnation. Non-calcareous water.|
|Exposure||Half shade, shadow. Sun alone in the mountains|
|Playback||Talea, layering, seed|
|colors||White, pink, red, yellow, lilac, blue-lilac|
|Flowering||All year, but every species in a specific period|