Wrong variety for climate. The flowers appear earlier in the southern reaches of the Appalachians, so Pennsylvania often doesn’t see rhododendrons until June or even July. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, “No one may remove any plant from public or private land without the landowner's or land manager's permission. Mountain laurel is found across most of the Pennsylvania and is particularly abundant in the mountainous regions. The Pennsylvania General Assembly had passed two bills naming a state flower – one the mountain laurel and the other the pink azalea. Alternatively, if you move to the Appalachians, you’ll experience the rhododendrons blossoming year after year because no matter when they bloom, you’ll be here. Weather. Chasing the bloom is the botanists’ version of birding expeditions. Although not as spectacular as the mountain laurel it is still something you don’t want to miss if you love flowers and nature. ... the recommended time to prune is immediately after blooming. The flowers with the most dazzling colors, though, appear in the mountains. In the Southern Appalachians, they can grow to 25 feet or higher. The bell-like flower of the mountain laurel has an unusual way to dispense its pollen. The deciduous varieties common in the Central Appalachian Mountains flourish in the higher elevations and cooler temperatures. I have two rhododendrons in my front yard that are looking very straggly. PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Officials are warning Pennsylvania residents to check their rhododendrons plants due to possible exposure to a virus. Rosebay’s big clumps of whitish flowers appear in June at the lower elevation and from July into August at the middle altitudes. Rosebay rhododendron is the most common rhododendron in the Smokies. Its leaves are lance-shaped, leathery, glossy and dark green, and measure 3-4 inches in length. The tropical vireya rhododendrons do well in the Los Angeles basin, and can be grown outdoors in Florida, Hawaii and in parts of Australia and New Zealand. Can be found commonly in both Virginia and North Carolina. This is a sweet little park that has protection for a rare species of Rhododendrons (native). Mountain laurel is a familiar site to most Pennsylvanians, but here are some things you might not know. Many areas of Pennsylvania appear to be experiencing a later than normal bloom this year, although some like the Laurel Highlands have reported full blooms have arrived. With a range stretching from southern Maine to northern Florida and west to Indiana and Louisiana, in addition to being the state flower of Pennsylvania, it’s the state flower of Connecticut and the namesake of the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, Laurel County in Kentucky and the city of Laurel in Mississippi. “Folks tend to confuse the spring bloom time of Rhododendron catawbiense with the state flower bloom time,” said Jon Teets, Superintendent at Audra State Park. Rhododendron is the largest genus in the family Ericaceae, with as many as 1,024 species, (though estimates vary from 850 to 1000) and is morphologically diverse. ... Fallingwater is a program of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. The first flowers typically appear in late March in northern Georgia, from Atlanta to the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Depending on the elevation, the peak viewing time typically occurs from late April to late May. Following the Trails of Appalachian Living. Contrary to popular myth, having the official designation of state flower does not give mountain laurel any more protection than any other wild plant in Pennsylvania. While they generally grow well in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 8 or 9, unseasonable weather can prevent rhododendrons from blooming. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “after initial consumption, the victim will experience burning lips, mouth, and throat, followed 6 hours later by nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, low blood pressure, drowsiness, convulsions, weakness, and progressive paralysis, followed by coma and death. Fortunately, rhododendrons and azaleas that bloom in late winter and early spring also grace our Seattle Japanese Garden. by an enclosed fence within the park. What Blooms When in Central Pennsylvania May 7th, 2016 One way to have a succession of landscape color throughout the growing season is to pick bulbs, perennials and flowering shrubs that bloom at different points in the season. Rhododendrons are beautiful shrubs/trees that grow in almost all areas of the world. The bloom season for Pennsylvania’s official state flower has arrived, ushering in the calendar … It’s close relative the rhododendron, also a native species, puts on its show in early July. Your experience may vary, but now that you know the primary variables — temperature, elevation and date — you should be able to chase the bloom yourself. It thrives around streams and in ravines at elevations below 5,000 feet. There are several reasons why your rhododendron is not blooming. Mountain laurel average 4-10 feet in height, although in the southeastern U.S. some specimens have been documented at 40 feet. It was the brainchild of local businessman Larry Woodin, who was hoping to boost a sagging economy by promoting the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. The Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs through the Appalachian Mountains from southwestern North Carolina up into Virginia, provides excellent vistas for flower-chasers. Too late, and the flowers will have faded. Mileposts 29, 85.8, 136-138, 272-275, 311.2 Sambucus canadensis. Not every rosebay rhododendron in the park blooms every year. The colorful spectacle even spreads into eastern Tennessee, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. Sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) is found in limited spots of northeastern Pennsylvania, which is the southern extreme of its range. In other words, the flowers rarely appear at the same time every year. Many garden shops throughout the mountains have rhododendron varieties for sale. The Rosebay Rhododendrons are the most common rhododendrons in the Smokies. In the Appalachians, the early arrival of the colorful blossoms is a harbinger of spring, a welcome and beautiful sight after a mountain winter. High-Summer: The … Mountain laurel is a member of the heath family, Ericaceae, which also includes azaleas, blueberries, cranberries, huckleberries and rhododendron. They get bigger than azaleas, 8 to 12 feet tall and wide (although I’ve seen our native Catawba rhododendrons towering 30 feet tall in the North Carolina mountains). But there are no legal restrictions on the cultivation of mountain laurel.". Since the rhododendrons’ colors are most vibrant when they first blossom, finding them is a time-sensitive matter. Too much shade/not enough light. … This variability has given birth to the phrase “chasing the bloom,” in which flower enthusiasts and floral tourists track the flower as it first appears in different parts of the mountains. Buds do not set or get frost-nipped or destroyed by cold, drying winds. Part 1 The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Advance Local. The first festival was held in 1938. April 28. "Rhododendrons International" Vol. They bloom later than the common ones, so head there 2-4 weeks after the other Rhodies have finished. When blooming they produce beautiful white flowers. Rhododendrons have much bigger flowers than azaleas, bloom later, and are open, not dense. Drought/dry soil as rhodies prefer to be constantly moist. You with me so far? The park is over flowing with big healthy beautiful rhododendrons. The rhododendron garden atop the mountain covers 600 acres and in June becomes the largest display of blooming rhododendrons in the world, according to www.roanmountain.com. Good. Answer: It’s often said that the best time to trim a rhododendron bush is in … The stamens, which are the male, pollen-producing part of the flower, are arched with their tips held under the rim of the flower. The blooms appear first at the lower park elevations in June, but can be seen at all elevations < 5,000 ft by July and August. In early April, the southern end of the Parkway is ablaze with brilliant hues. Maybe there are one or two flowers opening…or perhaps the entire shrub is in bloom. 1. Pinchot chose to sign the mountain laurel bill into law on May 5, 1933. Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement, and Your California Privacy Rights (each updated 1/1/20). In most of Pennsylvania, mountain laurel typically blooms from late May through mid-June, just before summer arrives on June 21. Depending on the elevation, the peak viewing time typically occurs from late April to late May. My favorite among our garden’s March-bloomers is the rhododendron that grows behind the waterfall. Photo credits: campbearcabins.com, flickr.com, Asheville Website Design by The Wired MouseWebsite Edited by Ray Access, About Simply Appalachian and Becky Rogers. In general, it’s common for most species (including hybrids) of rhododendrons and azaleas, to bloom in the springtime. It’s all part of the thrill for those chasing the bloom, but the rewards are the exquisite colors and fresh scents of the flowers. Mountain laurel has become more abundant in the past century, as the overstory of American chestnut trees declined under the assault of blight and then the subsequent overstory of oak trees was defoliated by gypsy moths. When a pollinator lands on the flowers, its weight releases the stamen, which flips its pollen like a catapult. Early history. The flowers appear earlier in the southern reaches of the Appalachians, so Pennsylvania often doesn’t see rhododendrons until June or even July. Community Rules apply to all content you upload or otherwise submit to this site. Children have been poisoned by merely sucking on the flowers of this plant. Roads through forested areas statewide are arriving in their annual burst of clusters of white to pink blossoms. Mountain laurel is one of the few broad-leaved plants native to Pennsylvania that do not lose their leaves in the winter. Great Rhododendron flower bud and leaves in Cook Forest State Park, PA, July 8, 2004 - photo by Ed Frank: Great Rhododendroni n full flower, Cook Forest State Park, PA, July 8, 2004 - photo by Ed Frank: Contrast in size between Great Rhododendron top and Mountain Laurel below. 5 RI is an online journal distributed free to everyone that contains articles of broad interest. © 2020 Advance Local Media LLC. Question: When is a good time to trim my rhododendrons? Soon, I hope, the flower buds of early-blooming rhododendrons will begin to open. Planting different varieties of rhododendrons that bloom at slightly different times of the year is also a way to extend the enjoyment. the foliage gets a nice Fall color, too. Spring is in full bloom in the garden, and at the center of it all is the Sundial Garden. The Western Pennsylvania Laurel Festival will run Saturday, June 16, through Sunday, June 24, in Brookville. The blooms then start popping out in South Carolina and into North Carolina, following the Blue Ridge Parkway into Virginia. Flowering season. A pair of close relatives to mountain laurel also are native to Pennsylvania. The further south you get and the lower in altitude, the earlier the flowers bloom. They are great for landscaping and produce beautiful flowers in the spring and summer. Rhododendrons are easy care plants that will thrive for decades if simple requirements are met. 3. Of course, if you’re a gardener, you can buy rhododendron bushes or trees to transplant in your own yard. Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) has been Pennsylvania’s official state flower since 1933, when Governor Gifford Pinchot signed into law one of two competing bills. Temperatures and other weather conditions can trigger an early season or a late season, while different rhododendron species typically blossom at different times. The event includes a juried arts and crafts fair, queens pageant, pet parade, children’s health fair, foot races, a gospel sing and several musical concerts, as well as the traditional two-hour Laurel Festival Parade. Weston Nurseries has been raising and introducing new varieties for some seventy-five years. Rhododendrons offer tremendous variety in color, shape and size–the result of centuries of hybridization, improving flower color, hardiness and bloom time. Rhododendron blooms range in color from white to yellow, pink, orange, red and purple. In late spring, the rhododendrons are blooming! While the plants are hardy, do your research to make sure you live in a region favorable to these plants. In addition, on public land in Pennsylvania, “cutting, picking, digging, damaging or removing, in whole or in part, a living or dead tree, shrub or plant” is illegal. When do the rhododendron bloom? Being popular shrubs in many landscapes, the topic of how to trim a rhododendron bush, including wild varieties like mountain laurel, is a frequently asked question.. 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