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Southgate Rhododendrons – Ornamental Plant of the Week for December 15, 2014

southgate brandi rhododendron
Southgate Brandi rhododendron (Photo courtesy of Southern Living Plant Collection)

Although plentiful in the appalachian Mountains, rhododendrons don’t show up much in Louisiana. Our heat and humidity usually lead to poor landscape performance.

But a new series of heat-tolerant rhododendrons for the Lower South have been developed in Louisiana by Dr. John Thornton of Franklinton. These are the Southgate series – part of the Southern Living Plant Collection.

Southgate Brandi features deep pink buds that open to pink, ruffled blooms with a dense habit and dark green, recurved, glossy leaves.

Southgate Breezy sports medium-pink buds that open to white with a prominent maroon blotch and a medium-dense habit with medium-green leaves.

Southgate Radiance showcases deep lavender buds that open to light purple and has a medium-dense habit.

Southgate Divine has light-pink buds opening to white with purple specks and has a medium-dense habit with medium-green leaves.

Southgate Grace has deep pink buds that open white, a dense habit and recurved leaves.

Southgate Breezy, Radiance and Divine all grow to 4 feet tall by 5 feet wide in 10 years, while Brandi grows to 3 feet tall by 4 feet wide. Grace reaches 4 feet tall by 6 feet wide in a decade.

Rhododendrons require cultural conditions similar to azaleas. These include shade during portions of the day, especially early to late afternoons. The soil pH for optimum growth is 5.5. Soils need to be enriched with organic matter, and it is important to plant rhododendrons in raised beds. Mulch them with pine straw and maintain uniformity in soil moisture for best success.

Allen Owings
Rick Bogren

Last Updated: 12/12/2014 3:56:22 PM

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