Courage, little friend.
Ev'rything'll end rhododandy.
Hurry! It's lovely up here."
-Alan Jay Lerner
'Daphnoides,' meaning daphne-like, is a very old rhododendron variety. Its origins are hazy, though it was developed by T. Methven & Sons by 1868. The Methvens' other creation still in production is 'Christmas Cheer.'
There has been disagreement as to whether this unusual form of Rhododendron ponticum is a natural variant, or the result of crossbreeding.
The Royal Horticultural Society lists it as hybridized with R. virgatum but if such a hybrid exists it is not the 'Daphnoides' grown in the Pacific Northwest, which rhododendron authority Harold E. Greer of Oregon states is unquestionably a select form of R. ponticum.
Its main distinguishing factor is its leaves. These are arranged in tightly arranged rosettes, each leaf convexed, forming a spoon, very unlike other rhododendrons. It is additionally quite compactly leafed. It's ten year height is six feet.
The flowers, in May & June, form round trusses of purple flowers, with faint yellow-orange blotch & freckling on the inner dorsal petal of each trumpet.
These are fairly basic ponticum blossoms, & the specimen I've photographed in a friend's garden is planted right next to R. ponticum var cheireanthifolium 'Variegatum' which likewise has unique leaves but pretty much the same flowers. This particular 'Daphnoides' has not been particularly floriferous, possibly because a big Japanese maple shades it too much when when it would be setting buds.
'Daphnoides' in general prefers filtered sunlight but tolerates full sun with some protection at high summer. It's hardy to minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit. It's more heat-hardy than the majority of rhodies, so can be gardened up to Zone 9.
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