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Rhododendron maximum

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Plant types and subtypes: Shrubs, Shrub-like Trees, Evergreens

Light Requirements: part-shade, shade

Water Use: medium

Soil Moisture: moist

Soil Description: acid, rich, loam

Height: 5'-15'

Bloom Time: June, July

Bloom Color: white, pink

Leaf Color: green

Hardiness Zone: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Additional Tags: attracts birds, evergreen, fall interest, ornamental foliage, shade garden plant

Rhododendron maximum (great laurel)
  • Rhododendron maximum (great laurel)
  • Rhododendron maximum (great laurel)
  • Rhododendron maximum (great laurel)
  • Rhododendron maximum (great laurel)

Pricing & Availability

Description

Rhododendron maximum

Also known as:

great laurel

,

great rhododendron

,

wild rhododendron

,

rosebay rhododendron

,

white laurel

Scientific Synonyms:

Rhododendron ashleyi

Description

Rhododendron maximum is the largest rhododendron native to north America, typically reaching a mature height of 15', but it has been known to grow up to 30' under exceptionally favorable conditions. Everything about this shrub is large: the 25, or so, individual white to pink flowers are up to 2" across, and clustered to form large showy umbels. The evergreen leathery leaves are broad, strap-like, and up to 4" across and 8" long. The blooming period is later than most native rhodies, occurring early to mid-summer.

Cultivation

Great laurel should be grown in filtered light, but will tolerate full shade. It requires acidic soil rich in organic material, that is both well-drained and remains consistently moist. Heavy, poorly-drained clay soils should be avoided because this species does not tolerate wet feet. The root system is shallow and fibrous. Cultivating around the base of the plant is strongly discouraged. Regularly adding a layer of mulch will help maintain appropriate moisture and acidity levels. This is a very cold hardy shrub.Zones 3-8

Propagation

Propagate from seed. Stem cuttings may be taken in fall or winter.

Additional Notes

For visual effect, if a 'green mulch' is preferred, Asarum canadense would be the plant of choice. This broadleaf ground cover will help keep the soil cool around the shrub's base without interfering with its root system.

Native Range & Classification

Recorded County Distribution: USDA data

Native Range:
AL, CT, DC, DE, GA, KY, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, VT, WV

USDA Endangered Status:

  • Exploitably Vulnerable: NY
  • Threatened: ME, MA, OH, VT

Classification

Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons
Subclass Dilleniidae
Order Ericales
Family Ericaceae Heath family
Genus Rhododendron rhododendron
Species Rhododendron maximum great laurel