Plant Common Name
New Guinea Vireya Rhododendron
This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.
A magnificent tropical rhododendron with spectacular fiery orange-yellow flowers, Rhododendron zoelleri is native to the Moluccas of Indonesia eastward across the highland rainforests of New Guinea. It is usually found growing in mossy cliffs but also is an epiphyte, growing upon the trunk of trees high up in the forest canopy.
Being a shrub or small tree, there is much variation in growth rate, mature size, flower color and profusion as they are most often grown as seedlings. Their visual triumph are the large funnel shaped flowers, yellow-orange or salmon, sometimes with yellow tubes and the lobes blushes orange that deepen to red as the blossoms age. The evergreen foliage is deep green and lovely pointed ovals with a satiny sheen.
Grow the New Guinea vireya in bright indirect light, or dappled shade where there is no threat of frost outdoors. Moderate summer heat and humidity are needed, but nothing oppressive. Ensure the friable soil is moist, acidic, has excellent drainage with some organic matter incorporated. Specific growing conditions can vary between seedlings of plants, especially if collected from different habitats in the wild.
Older historic cultivars like 'Island Sunset' and 'Golden Gate' tend to be more problematic to either grow or get to flower, but seedlings of these plants often have improved vigor and are shared among vireya rhododendron plant enthusiasts. Grow them as potted specimens in a cool orchid greenhouse with bright diffused light, high humidity, and moving air where your outdoor climate does not match the frost-free, moist habitats of the equatorial highlands.
There are andromedotoxins in all parts of the rhododendron plant with associated health concerns. For more information visit: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/Rhodosp.htm .
Clay, Loam, Sand
Container, Feature Plant, Hanging Basket, Mixed Border, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier, Tropical
Sharp or Has Thorns