Rhododendron calophytum

Plant of the month: April

This early flowering rhododendron has beautiful soft pink buds that look velvet like. They open to wide open bells of soft pink with a maroon throat, they are rumoured to be fragrant – but you need a warm day to catch the scent. There are usually many flowers in a truss. It is often a multi-stemmed small tree growing to 10m by 6m across and comes from south west China and Tibet. It is evergreen with leaves that can reach 30cm in length.

You should grow this rhododendron (as most rhododendrons) in humus rich, moist soil that is slightly acid, they dislike being deeply planted as they are shallow rooters and need dappled shade.

We grow our Rhododendrons in the most humid part of the Garden where the soil is acid sand over clay. With a hedge one side and a bank the other to give shelter the area retains a moist atmosphere, seeming to be ideal for our rhododendrons.