Pastel #19

Rhododendron hybrid #19

I would tell you the genetic origin of this native deciduous hybrid if I could, but all I wrote on the label was what was likely in the catalog when I ordered it: R. pastel #19. Even though I save almost all the catalogs from this nursery (back to 1999), I can’t find this particular plant listed. I wonder if that’s because they started calling it R. austrinum x R. atlanticum. The pictures of my flowers and the picture they list for that cross are quite similar.

I’m not yet growing a pure Florida Azalea (R. austrinum), but I’ve seen gorgeous specimens in bloom at the NC Botanical Garden (NCBG) in Chapel Hill. The flowers have more red in them. The ones at the NCBG are wonderfully fragrant. My hybrid is also quite sweet, but not overpoweringly so.

I do grow a pure R. atlanticum, which is not yet blooming. Its flowers are white, and the plant is more wide than tall.

The form of my pastel hybrid #19 (I know the number because I wrote it on its label) looks more like that of R. austrinum. Mine is about five feet tall now, as you can see here:

Rhododendron Pastel #19 in its entirety

Whatever its origins, it’s a lovely shrub, and it blooms reliably for me every year. I confess I am enamored with the native deciduous azalea clan. I’m growing at least 12 different species/crosses inside a deer fence on the north-facing slope of our yard. They mingle with deciduous magnolias (another obsession), viburnums, native blueberry species, and a growing array of native perennial flowers (with a few irresistible non-native flowers added for good measure).

Without the deer fence, the blooms in these pictures would be impossible. I highly recommend deer fencing to any southeast Piedmont gardener wishing to protect and enjoy a springtime garden.

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