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Monday, April 2, 2012


Rhododendron 'Narnia'
The viryea rhododendrons in the Tropical High Elevation House are throwing a party. An early spring, a rigorous pruning (last summer), a little extra fertilizer and shazam~ a Rhododendron blowout. I can't remember the last time I saw so many flowers on our vireya rhododendrons.

Rhododendron laetum grows at 1800 to 2300 meters elevation in New Guinea
You are familiar with Rhododendron, of course, a huge genus of over 850 species. More than a third of these belong to the subgenus Vireya. The vireyas range from the Himalayas and South China through the multitude Malesian islands in South East Asia and into northern Australia. Some are epiphytes. Many are mountain-dwelling.

a Vireya Rhododendron hybrid
Vireya rhododendrons are not hardy in Atlanta.The vireyas in our Tropical High Elevation House thrive in a humid greenhouse where the night temperatures dip into the low 50's. Our plants are growing in a soil mix that contains peat moss, fine fir bark, charcoal and permatill. We fertilize our viryea rhododendrons and our tropical blueberries with Bovee's 5-5-7, a fertilizer formulated for rhododendrons and other ericaceous plants.

Rhododendron suaveolens often grows as as an epiphytic shrub in large trees in Sabah on the island of Borneo.
The Education Committee of the Rhododendron Species Foundation publishes a newsletter for Vireya fans, called the Vireya Vine. Another terrific resource is the website Vireya Rhododendrons.

Stop by and see our vireyas. They will continue to flower through April in the Tropical High Elevation House.

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