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Purple Passion Rhododendron
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If purple is your passion, then Purple Passion Rhododendron will please you profusely. Big bunches of deep purple blossoms tinged with magenta and highlighted with white markingsgrace its sturdy branches each spring. When mild spring weather has settled in and sitting on the patio is a joy, you’ll want this regal Accent nearby to gaze upon. Use it at the edge of a woodland garden, in a courtyard, or in any of the mixed borders that surround your home. Out of bloom it will project a stately presence with its bold evergreen foliage and its dense, upright habit. Very distinguished.
From late 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. Purple Passion Rhododendron is most likely a Catawba Rhododendron. It originated as a seedling at the nursery of Robert and Margaret Blough of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1974. Purple Splendour Catawba Rhododendrons were growing nearby. Purple Passion is similar to its probable parents, but with some key differences. It is darker in flower color, more disease resistant, and hardier than Purple Splendour.
Some Rhododendrons can be a bit tricky to grow, but Purple Passion is one of the most resilient. With proper care, it thrives in the colder states—down to -25ºF. This one is a winner!
How to Grow
Catawba Rhododendron is tougher than many Rhododendrons, but it does appreciate good siting and aftercare. Plant Purple Passion 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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