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RHODODENDRON zoelleri

Image of Rhododendron zoelleri

Maureen Gilmer

Family

Ericaceae

Botanical Name

RHODODENDRON zoelleri

Plant Common Name

New Guinea Vireya Rhododendron

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

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 .

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 5

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 13

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 24

  • Plant Type

    Broadleaf Evergreen

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Shade, Full Shade

  • Height

    3'-15' / 0.9m - 4.6m (3)

  • Width

    4'-8' / 1.2m - 2.4m (4)

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Indeterminate

  • Native To

    Southeastern Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Lemon Yellow, Gold, Salmon, Orange Red

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Bicolor

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Brown, Sienna

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Hanging Basket, Mixed Border, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No