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What works in full sun?

11 years ago

I live in Northern Virginia. I would love to plant some rhododendrons and/or azaleas in front of my house. However, this means full sun, including all afternoon.

Right now I have a Nova Zembla in this area that was planted last May. I didn't realize at the time that it might be too much sun. Last July was a struggle in the heat. It also lost one branch due, I was told, to likely root rot, but it made it and looks good right now and is forming buds. I also have some Encore Azaleas, also planted last May, about half of which are looking good, two died (root bound, my bad as I didn't know what I was doing), and none have bloomed yet. I actually think the last ice storm is what hurt them as it also caused problems for some older established azaleas in other parts of the yard.

Anyway, are there any sun-loving rhodies or azaleas -- or is this a pipe dream?


Comments (7)

  • mainegrower
    11 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Full sun, especially afternoon sun, in a Z7 climate, would be very, very difficult for most elepidote (large leafed) rhododendrons. Nova Zembla is a tough variety, but will struggle. The hot soil temperatures in a location like this will make various root diseases more likely. Lacebugs will potentially be a greater problem in a sunny location than in one with some shade.

    All in all, you're likely to be much better off with azaleas, either evergreen or deciduous. A good local nursery would be your best source of advice about what varieties would be most suited to your climate and exposure.

  • Birdsong72
    11 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Mainegrower's correct. Your best best are native Azaleas which will do very very well in full sun.

    Any effort to grow even the most heat tolerant leps or elipidotes will be throwing money out the window.

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  • carolinamary
    11 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    >Anyway, are there any sun-loving rhodies or azaleas -- or is this a pipe dream?

    We don't have any in absolutely full sun. But our gumpo azaleas have sun for a good many hours each day at the height of the summer sun. They do well, as long as they're kept watered (they need a lot of water in that spot) and grow so tightly that they're especially attractive. I've read that gumpos ought only to have a quarter of a day's direct sunlight but that doesn't seem accurate here. If you're desperate to try something, it might be worth a try with a gumpo, though the hardiness might be iffy that far north; just see whether local nurseries/big box stores ever carry them and you'll know. They bloom late, so the stores there might not yet be sold out if they do carry them. Our Wakaebisu azaleas do well here in a lot of sun and might work well for you too, if you keep them well watered. They bloom just before the gumpos.

    You might contact Kathy Van Veen at Van Veen's nursery and ask for a recommendation on rhododendrons. With an order delivered here, they once sent me a list of sun/heat tolerant rhododendrons. (Not necessarily meaning *full* sun, but at least more than most rhododendrons will take.) Looking through that list, I could see a direct correlation with the varieties we'd had good luck with in our relatively sunny area in mid summer. Your location is a bit different than here, though, so I don't know whether she'd want to send you the same list as what she sent here, but you might just call or email her and ask for variety recommendations for northern VA sunny areas.

    You might look up the hardiness on rhododendron 'Pink Pearl' and see how it does in your area. I'd make a guess that that one might have a chance of working. (It's a terrific rhododendron and can take quite a bit of sun if it's hardy enough there.)

    If rhododendrons and azaleas don't work out, you might consider sasanqua and hiemalis camellias. Some of them can take full sun. I'm thinking of the camellias 'Kanjiro' and 'Shishigashira'. Among the japonica camellias, 'Professor C.S. Sargent' would have a reasonable chance of working too. Ours is in a good bit of sun and performing admirably, with a dwarf kalmia latifolia doing well right next to it. 'Professor C.S. Sargent' is very hardy and would likely make it through your winters.

    One approach might be to plant a grouping of camellia-rhododendrons & azaleas, locating the camellia to the south side of the grouping. If you buy a couple of very large tall vigorously growing camellias and start out with smaller rhododendrons and azaleas on their north side, they might get a enough sun protection from the camellias to offer a better chance at success.

    Best wishes,

  • rhodyman
    11 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Hybrid Rhododendrons for Sunny Locations

    'A. Bedford' 6', -5F, ML, 4/3. This large growing, vigorous rhododendron tolerates exposure to full sun. Its funnel shaped flowers with ruffled edges are pale mauve to lavender-blue with a distinctive dark blotch. This is a good selection for a background plant.

    'Alena' 5', 10F, EM. Introduced from the Czech Republic, this sun tolerant plant has fragrant white flowers with yellow spotting in the throat. There will be a slight blush on new flowers. Dark glossy leaves cover the broad, mounding plant.

    'Anah Kruschke' 6', -15F, ML-L. A good looking rhododendron that grows well in sunny, hot locations. Its reddish-purple flowers are held in medium sized, tight trusses. Dense and lush foliage with dark green leaves.

    'Aunt Martha' 5', -10F, M-ML. Hardy, vigorous, densely foliated and heavy blooming plant. Plenty of leathery leaves enable the plant to grow well in full sun and moderate heat. Bright red-purple flowers are speckled with gold in the center.

    'Barto Alpine' 3', -10F, EM. Orchid-rose flowers open all along the stems of the densely branched plant. It has the spicy scent of freshly ground nutmeg. Its dense upright growth habit is a form well-suited for planting as a short hedge or screen reaching 5'.

    'Belle Heller' 5', -10F, M. Here is hardiness, sun tolerance, lush foliage, and a lovely flower all in one. The large flower is pure white with a striking gold blotch, set in large, ball shaped trusses on a vigorous grower.

    'Black Eye' 5', -10F, ML. A sister seedling of 'Red Eye', this rugged plant stands sun well and blooms young. The deep red-purple flowers have a distinct "black eye" on the upper lobe.

    'Blue Angel' 6', -15'F, M. It has lovely purple flowers with a contrasting yellow blotch. With strong green, sun tolerant, foliage the growth habit is much like its parent.

    'Blue Diamond' 3', -5F, EM. A favorite of many gardeners, 'Blue Diamond' has small flowers all along the vertical dense, finely branched stems. A sunny location is best for this well shaped plant often used in a border.

    'Blue Ensign' 4', -15F, M. Very hardy, sun tolerant, lilac blue with a striking purple blotch. Its truss is similar to 'Blue Peter' and while they both become huge plants, 'Blue Ensign' is more compact.

    'Blue Peter' 4-5', -10F, M. Its frilled flowers are light lavender-blue with a prominent purple flare. The lush leaves are glossy green. It's vigorous, cold hardy, heat and sun resistant.

    'Cadis' 5', -15F, ML. With long, narrow leaves and the fragrant, light pink trusses, this plant is a popular cold hardy hybrid from the eastern U.S. A sun tolerant selection.

    'Cheer' 5', -10F, EM. Pink trusses signal the coming of spring. Plenty of glossy, dark green leaves dress 'Cheer'. Plant grows compactly forming a dense, round mound.

    'Cherries 'n Cream' 4', 5F, M. A new plant with exceptional foliage. Sun tolerant and compact in growth habit, this plant sports large pink flowers that open from cherry-red buds.

    'Chionoides' 4', -10F, ML. Tolerant of the sun and cold, this compact hybrid grows beautifully even when planted in locations often considered too exposed for a rhododendron. A broad, dense cushion measuring 5-6' high develops as the plant matures. White, dome trusses are bright and numerous.

    'Christmas Cheer' 4', -10F, VE-E. Extremely early pink trusses. Tough, medium sized leaves are dense on this well shaped plant. It doesn't bloom at Christmas time as the name might indicate.

    'County of York' 6', -15F, M. Vigorous growing plant with large, upright white trusses of good substance. Here is hardiness, good flower and large foliage, all in one hybrid. Apple-green, somewhat shiny foliage. Sun exposure and cold are well tolerated.

    'Crater Lake' 4-5', -5F, EM-M. Flowers are electric blue, flat and saucer shaped, with ruffled edges. They are held in groups of three, with many on a single branch. New foliage is bronze, changing to green with maturity.

    'Cream Crest' 3', 0F, EM. Compact in habit, it likes the sun, has good foliage, is hardy and vigorous, and has alluring, bright, creamy yellow flowers.

    'Cynthia' 6', -15F, M, 4/3. An old favorite which is still one of the best for a strong growing, background plant. 'Cynthia' will produce a bounty of large, conical, rosy-crimson trusses. Sun and heat tolerant.

    'Daphnoides' 4', -15F, ML. Rolled, glossy leaves are tightly spaced on the stems of this dense mound. Prolific pom-pom trusses are purple.

    'Dora Amateis' 3', -15F, EM. Pure white flowers cling to this low growing, bushy plant. Its deep green, dense foliage is highlighted with bronze tones and is prettiest when grown in full sun. It is a spicy scented hybrid with great foliage.

    'Fastuosum Flore Pleno' 6', -15F, ML. Double, lavender-blue flowers with a large golden flare on the upper dorsal lobe give extra interest to this hardy, sun tolerant hybrid. The growth habit is somewhat open but round on this fine plant. Its good foliage is dense and green.

    'Gomer Waterer' 6', -15F, ML. This old standby is one of the best whites ever hybridized. Flower buds are a delicate pink that open to blush white blossoms containing a freckling of soft green in the throat. Large deep green leaves make this an outstanding foliage plant. Very sun tolerant.

    'Hallelujah' 4', -15F, M. The leaves are a deep green, extremely heavy textured and have an attractive, downward curving form. The flowers are rose-red in a large, tight truss. It's an adaptable rhododendron.

    'Hardijzer Beauty' 3', -5F, EM. A dwarf evergreen azaleodendron from Holland. This small plant is vigorous and sun tolerant. When in flower, clear pink blossoms open all along the stems. It is an excellent choice for a small bed or long, low border.

    'Jean Marie de Montague' 5', -5F, M. Every new red introduced is judged against 'Jean Marie' (as it is often called) to see if it is better and few actually pass the grade. 'Jean Marie' has bright red flowers so showy that you can't miss them. The thick, heavy foliage stands sun and is deep emerald-green. Few plants have foliage as green. Buds young.

    'Jock' 3', -5F, EM. Rosy-pink flowers are everywhere upon this rolling mound of green. The plant gives best results in full sun and is easily rooted.

    'Lady Clementine Mitford' 5', -5F, ML. A hardy plant with distinctive gray-green leaves. The flowers are beautiful, soft peach-pink. Its foliage looks like it was sprinkled with silver. Can withstand both sun and heat. Also known as 'Lady Clementina Mitford'.

    'Manitou' 3', -25F, EM. This new hybrid is similar to 'Windbeam', only it is more compact in growth habit. It covers itself with luscious light pink flowers from top to bottom. Its small leaves will stand sun and makes a plant to be admired in the garden.

    'Mrs. Charles E. Pearson' 6', -5F, M. Flowers are light pink with brown spots. It was developed in 1909, received an Award of Merit in 1933 and then a First Class Certificate as late as 1955. Super vigorous with lush foliage. Sun and heat tolerant.

    'Mrs. G. W. Leak' 6', 0F, EM. Tall, vigorous plant with olive-green leaves. Clear, light pink flowers have a dark blotch in an upright compact truss. Grows in sun or shade.

    'Myrtifolium' 3', -15F, L. For heat and sun tolerance this is extremely good. This plant has beautiful deep bronze-red foliage all winter and is a joy to view. It flowers very late in the season with small, medium pink flowers, great to extend the flowering time of rhododendrons. The plant is dense and well clothed in leathery leaves that are a rich, matte green in summer. A dependable rhododendron.

    'Nova Zembla' ' 5 ', -25F, M. This rhododendron has true hardiness in a red. A vigorous plant that has good foliage and will grow in more difficult areas. This hybrid exhibits some outstanding characteristics. Of course, hardiness tops the list. A nice looking contrast with other plants. Extremely showy, red flowers make a real display in the spring.. Dark red flowers in a ball-shaped cluster. Broad, bushy plant. Cold and heat tolerant and sun and shade tolerant.

    'Oceanlake' 30", -5F, EM. Deep violet-blue flowers make a charming display on this small-leafed hybrid. The foliage turns interesting tones in winter. Will take sun.

    'PJM' 4', -25F, E. This hybrid is cold hardy as well as tolerant of heat and sun as well as shade. Its small, rounded leaves are green during the summer and mahogany colored in winter. 'PJM's' early bright lavender-pink flowers are beautiful against its dark colored winter foliage. One of the reasons the 'P.J.M.' group is such a heavy flowerer is that the plant does not set seed. They are very hardy, among the hardiest and most sun tolerant rhododendrons. They include the following:

    'Black Satin' has a semi-erect habit and bears an abundance of showy, vivid, dark rose-pink flowers in mid-April. Fall and winter foliage is glossy and very dark purplish-black.

    'Counterpoint' is a deciduous shrub with a spreading, upright habit, and bears an abundance of showy, semi-double, vivid, bright pink flowers in mid-April.

    'Desmit' has a dense, mounding habit and bears an abundance of vivid, showy, pink flowers in early April. This cultivar has shown to be moderately resistant to sun scalding.

    'Elite' is a vigorous, tall grower and bears an abundance of vivid, showy, rich pink flowers in mid-April.

    'Henry's Red' has a broad, upright habit and bears an abundance of showy, vivid, deep red flowers beginning in mid-April.

    'Laurie' is a slow grower with a compact habit, bearing an abundance of showy, single to semi-double, very light pink flowers beginning in mid to late April.

    'Low Red Frilled' has a spreading, short, compact habit and bears an abundance of showy, frilled, vivid red flowers beginning in mid-April.

    'Marathon' is a deciduous cultivar with a semi-erect habit, and bears an abundance of showy, vivid, magenta flowers beginning in mid-April.

    'Molly Fordham' has a compact habit and bears an abundance of showy, vivid, white flowers beginning in early May.

    'Northern Rose' has a semi-upright habit and bears an abundance of showy, vivid, bright pink flowers beginning in mid-April. This rhododendron is the result of a cross between R. 'Waltham' and R. mucronulatum 'Cornell Pink.' It was first developed by Dr. Robert Ticknor.

    'Olga Mezzitt'' is covered in Winter with mahogany colored, small leaves which are bright green in summer. In spring it is transformed by numerous trusses of clear pink on every limb of the plant. It's hardy and sun tolerant making it especially valued if you don't have much shade in your garden.

    'Regal' is a vigorous grower with a broad, spreading habit which bears an abundance of showy, vivid, light purplish-pink flowers beginning in mid-April.

    'Victor' is a slow grower with a compact habit and bears an abundance of showy, vivid, light purplish-pink flowers in early April.

    'Waltham' has a dense, mounding habit, to 3 feet tall and wide, and bears an abundance of showy, vivid, pink flowers beginning in mid-April. Leaf spotting occurs when exposed to full sun.

    'Weston's Aglo' With the same parentage as 'Olga Mezzitt', this flower exhibits many of the same super qualities, such as sun tolerance and early flowering. This upright plant has flowers of light pink with a reddish eye.

    'Weston's Pink Diamond' is a semi-evergreen shrub with a spreading, upright habit and bears an abundance of frilled, double, vivid, pink flowers in early April.

    'White Angel' is a semi-evergreen shrub with an upright habit and bears an abundance of showy, white flowers, which open from lavender buds, beginning in mid-April.

    'Ramapo' 2', -20F, EM. Plentiful pale violet flowers are amid a bushy blue-green mat of leaves. This hardy dwarf can be grown in sun or partial shade, although in full sun it will maintain a more compact form. It is well suited for use in a low border or rock garden.

    'Red Eye' 5', -10F, ML. This plant stands sun, buds young, branches readily and does not mind heavy cutting for propagation! It's a plant you can depend on year after year. The flowers are deep red-purple with an interesting eye. When the flower first opens, the eye is green gold and little by little it becomes red. It is an interesting contrast with the purple! 'Red Eye' is a misnomer because the "eye" isn't always red.

    'Rose Elf' 18", 5F, E. Often there are six or eight flower buds per stem which open to a delightful pastel orchid pink. Jade green leaves are numerous along this bushy multiple stemmed plant. In full sun exposure the leaves take on a bronze cast. 'Rose Elf' forms a bushy low border. It is well suited also to rock gardening and bonsai culture.

    'Scarlet Wonder' 2', -15F, M. 'scarlet Wonder' is a low, exceptionally compact plant with dense glossy green leaves that have an interesting texture. The plant will stand more sun and exposure than most. This is a great foliage that plant, that, when it blooms, turns into a mass of brilliant scarlet red.

    'Sonata' 3', 0F, L. 'sonata' has tubular shaped, orange-red flowers edged in red. The mass of slender, dark green leaves do well in a sunny spot.

    'Trilby' 5', -15F, ML. Beautiful flowers of deep crimson with black marking. Matte green leaves are set off against red stems to beautify the plant even when not in flower. Sun tolerant.

    'Wissahickon' (parentage unknown) 5', -15F, ML. A good choice if you are looking for a vigorous growing variety that is sun tolerant. The bright rose flowers, with a deeper throat, have brownish spotting. A plant of good reputation in the East.

    'Wyandanch Pink' 5', -15F, M. This is the rhododendron for that sunny spot in the yard as it does best in the sun. Excellent foliage highlight the vivid pink flowers spotted darker on the upper lobe.

    'Yellow Hammer' 4', 5F, EM. Very deep yellow flowers are held on an upright growing plant. Can be trimmed easily and makes a good hedge. One of the few yellow rhododendrons that will do well in sunny locations.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Rhododendrons for Sun

  • lafu115
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Wow! Thanks so much!

  • lafu115
    Original Author
    11 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I found two beautiful Rhododendton catawbiense boursalt at a local nursery. The info at the nursery said these are tough plants that take sun and heat well. I am planning to put them in the back center of each of the flower beds in front of the house with camellias (sasanqua or hybrids) on either side. I found these rhododendrons on a list of proven performers for this zone
    (mid-atlantic/VA). Does anyone have any experience with these?

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