Rhododendron prunifolium is one of the latest of our native azaleas to
bloom. Plants of this species normally flower in the summer, usually starting in
late June or July and continuing into August or September. I have
raised a number of R. prunifolium seedlings but the one pictured on this
page is the latest flowering form I have. In
most years, this plant opens in my garden about mid-August and flowers sporadically into September.
However, on years
when there is a summer drought, this plant as well as several others I have raised
will often wait for autumn rains
before they begin to bloom. In some years, flowers have not started to open until
September or even October, depending upon the weather conditions. I should note
that my plants are
growing on a high bank with rather dense shade, and are about 8 feet tall now. I usually
do not water any established plants in my garden but expect them to survive on their own.
To the right above is the front page of the Washington Post on
November 14th, 2002, behind a branch of my late prunifolium in bloom.
In fact, all of the pictures shown on this page
were taken on that same date.
We did have a prolonged and very severe drought in the summer of 2002, and since my plants
remained stressed and wilted for many months, they did not
start to bloom this year until heavy rains
arrived in October. Such late flowering is not too unusual on my prunifoliums though.
I have had a few flowers of this native azalea in bloom as late as Thanksgiving in some years, providing
those last few opening buds don't get killed by an early freeze.
With over 10 inches
rain in the past six weeks, some of the flowers have been rather beaten up by
torrential downpours. With all
the other fall color around, the coral to red flowers of this native azalea do not really
show up that well this year.
However, below are some more pictures of my late blooming native azalea.
If you want to learn
more about this unusaul native azalea species, check out some of my other links at the bottom of the page.