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Gardeners in frigid climates are often out of luck when it comes to growing evergreen Rhododendrons. These flamboyant Accents are just a little too tender for those regions. Minnetonka Rhododendron to the rescue! Bred in Wisconsin, this hardy selection lets homeowners in the northern states enjoy the pleasures of evergreen Rhododendrons, too. Minnetonka boasts beautiful trusses of lavender-purple flowers in late spring against a background of bold foliage. A compact grower, it works wonderfully in foundation beds and entryway gardens. Employ it as a single specimen or group several plants together for a lush effect. Sublime!
- Hardiness Zone: 5
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Hybrid Evergreen Rhododendrons are the result of years of patient breeding work done using countless species and forms of these spectacular Accents. Because of the efforts of so many professional and amateur plant lovers, we now have a rainbow of colors to choose from when selecting Rhododendrons for our homes. One website lists 15,000 varieties of Evergreen Rhododendrons in its database! Minnetonka is a rugged variety bred by Henry Motzkau of Whitewater, Wisconsin (near Milwaukie). Although he selected it in 1965, the fine plant wasn’t registered until 1990, when a Portland, Oregon, nursery picked it up.
Minnetonka is a term from the upper Midwest. A Dakota word meaning “great water,” it’s also the name of a lake and town in Minnesota.
How to Grow
Rhododendrons appreciate a little pampering. They thrive when shielded from hot summer sun and given moist but well-drained, acidic soil. They never like to dry out but don’t care for soggy conditions, either. Rhododendrons can “burn” from harsh chemical fertilizers, so feed with a gentle organic product like Bower & Branch Elements™ Fertilizer. Azalea lace bug can sometimes be an issue, but specimens grown in optimal conditions in most cases will remain healthy and resistant to attack. If pruning is necessary, trim your Minnetonka Rhododendronimmediately after blooming, as next year’s flower buds are formed in summer.
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