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Carolina Rhododendron Rhododendron minus var. minus

Other Common Name(s):

Other plants called Carolina Rhododendron:

Phonetic Spelling
rho-doh-DEN-dron MY-nus
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Piedmont rhododendron is a compact dwarf, woody, evergreen shrub in the Ericaceae (blueberry) family. Native to the eastern United States and growing only 1 to 2 feet tall and wide, it is found in the woods and mountains, on moist slopes, streamsides, rocky cliffs, and ridges in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The genus name derives from the Greek words rhodo, which means rose, and dendron, meaning tree.

Grow this rhododendron in full sun to partial shade and moist, well-drained, acidic soils, but with protection from afternoon sun, which can scorch the leaves. It does not tolerate dense clay, so if you have clay soil, amend with organic material. Plant the root ball high in the soil to help with drainage issues. Avoid overwatering and over-fertilizing. It is heat tolerant but also surprisingly cold hardy (to -5°F). Pruning, if desired, may be done after flowering. 

Piedmont rhododendron works well as understory shrubs planted in groups in woodland or naturalized areas, or as specimens in pollinator gardens where the flowers will attract hummingbirds and bees.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Insect problems include aphids, borers, lace bugs, leafhoppers, mealybugs, mites, nematodes, scale, thrips and whitefly.  Diseases include canker, crown rot, root rot, leaf spot, rust, and powdery mildew.  Full sun can scorch the leaves, and the roots rot if soil does not drain well. This plant suffers from deer browsing.  In harsh winters the leaves may burn somewhat, but the plant is unharmed and aggressively springs back. 

While rhododendrons remain very popular for landscape use, many cultivars are susceptible to Phytophthora root rot—this leads to leaf loss, reduced vigor, branch dieback, and wilting. Implement good cultural practices first, such as improving drainage with organic matter or berms and avoiding overwatering or overfertilization.

For suitable alternatives, see this video created by Charlotte Glen as part of the Plants, Pests, and Pathogens series.

VIDEO Created by Elizabeth Meyer for "Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

More information on Rhododendron minus.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • ‘Southern Cerise’
‘Southern Cerise’
Tags:
#evergreen#hardy#poisonous#heat tolerant#wildlife plant#small shrub#nectar plant#piedmont#dwarf#specialized bees#moist soil#pollinator plant#leathery leaves#flowers late spring#evergreen shrub#wet soils tolerant#problem for cats#problem for dogs#bee friendly#problem for horses#woodland garden#flowers mid-spring
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • ‘Southern Cerise’
‘Southern Cerise’
Tags:
#evergreen#hardy#poisonous#heat tolerant#wildlife plant#small shrub#nectar plant#piedmont#dwarf#specialized bees#moist soil#pollinator plant#leathery leaves#flowers late spring#evergreen shrub#wet soils tolerant#problem for cats#problem for dogs#bee friendly#problem for horses#woodland garden#flowers mid-spring
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Rhododendron
    Species:
    minus var. minus
    Family:
    Ericaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern US
    Distribution:
    AL, GA, NC, SC, and TN
    Wildlife Value:
    Members of the genus Rhododendron support the following specialized bee: Andrena (Andrena) cornelli.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Elongated capsule
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Funnel
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Description:
    White pillowy buds with a blush of pink open to clusters of showy white flowers that fade to pink or light purple. Funnel or bell shaped appear in the spring from May to June.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Simple, alternate twisting dark green leathery leaves. Apex usually acute or acuminate, secondary veins usually not depressed.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Small groups
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Pollinators
    Specialized Bees
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Vomiting (not in horses), diarrhea, weakness, cardiac failure
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Grayantoxin
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No