Rhododendron is large genus in the heath (Ericaceae) family includes some 800 species, which are widely distributed across the Northern Hemisphere, with the majority growing in temperate to cool regions. Gardeners can choose from many different types of rhododendrons: Alpine rhododendrons, with small leaves, wiry stems, and clusters of tiny flowers; shrub rhododendrons, including those up to 15 ft (4.5 m) tall; tree rhododendrons, with a single trunk and a large head of foliage; evergreen azaleas, which are low to tall bushes with semi-persistent foliage and large light-textured flowers; deciduous azaleas, which are large twiggy bushes with flowers usually in shades of yellow, red, or orange; and vireya rhododendrons, which are tender tropical species with funnel-shaped blooms and no fixed flowering season.
In common with most heath family plants, rhododendrons prefer acidic soils, high in organic matter and freely draining, in a partly shaded position. While most prefer some protection from wind, sun, and frost, many others tolerate these conditions. Species may be raised from seed, or propagate from half-hardened cuttings or layers.
Rhododendron foliage is extremely variable. Most species bear "trusses" of up to 24 spectacular blooms, in colours ranging from white to pink, red, yellow, and mauve. Flowers are often multicoloured, with spots, stripes, edging, or a single blotch of a different colour in the throat of the flower. With the exception of some vireya species and hybrids, fragrant rhododendrons are always white or very pale pink. Blooms vary in size and shape but are generally bell-shaped, appearing from early spring to early summer. The fruit is a many-seeded capsule, normally woody, with the tiny seeds sometimes bearing wings or tail-like appendages to aid dispersal.
This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.