Rhododendron Prunifolium
by Donald Hyatt

A Late Flowering Form

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.

Flowers, Battered by Heavy Rains

Plant, Against Other Fall Foliage

Buds Expanding as Foliage Turns

Fresh Flowers, Just Opening

Prunifolium Links