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When most of the great flowering trees of spring are finishing up and summer Spirits have yet to show their colors, one stellar Accent bursts onto the scene. Catawba Rhododendron takes the stage, displaying big, beautiful bunches of lavender, pink, and white blooms for all to see. The voluptuous flowers are the perfect embodiment of that sweet season. Chionoides Catawba Rhododendron is a picture of grace and abundance at that time with its elegant clusters of crisp white blossoms. Use it in your foundation beds, where it will brighten your landscape when in bloom and provide welcome, lush greenery the rest of the year.
- Hardiness Zone: 5
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Chionoides is a type of Catawba Rhododendron. From April through June, the Catawba Rhododendron lights up shady hillsides and forest understory in the Alleghany Mountains, bringing its rosy purple cheer to a region extending from southern Virginia to northern Alabama. Chionoides therefore has its roots in the U.S., but it also owes an allegiance to England, where it first appeared. A nurseryman named John Standish introduced it in 1867. Its name (pronounced ky-on-oh-EYE-deez) means “looks like snow” in Greek, and it’s not hard to imagine the rounded flower clusters as frosty-white snowballs.
Some Rhododendrons can be a bit tricky to grow, but Chionoides is one of the most resilient. With proper care, it thrives in the colder states—down to -20ºF. It tolerates more sun than other Rhododendrons as well. This one is a winner!
How to Grow
Catawba Rhododendron is tougher than many Rhododendrons, but it does appreciate good siting and aftercare. Plant Chionoides in part shade, in cool, acidic, well-drained soil for best results. Keep the rootzone moist but never soggy. An annual layer of organic mulch will help to retain moisture. Avoid harsh chemical fertilizers—Catawba Rhododendron is sensitive to overfeeding;a gentle organic product like Bower & Branch Elements™ Fertilizer is all that is needed if plants seem weak or “hungry.” Black vine weevil and Azalea lace bug can sometimes be an issue, but specimens grown in optimal conditions in most cases will remain healthy and resistant to attack.
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