In late spring, the rhododendrons are blooming! The lavender of the beginning blossoms of the lilacs is combined with a sea of pinks and whites as spiraeas, rhododendrons, cherries, viburnums, and crabapples are all in full bloom. Chasing the bloom is the botanists’ version of birding expeditions. 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. … Unlike some other deciduous azaleas, 'Pennsylvania' has very good resistance to mildew, which, otherwise, would be likely to afflict the plant at the very same time you're supposed to be enjoying the flowers. Early history. Question: When is a good time to trim my rhododendrons? The colors come from the species, not the weather. Children have been poisoned by merely sucking on the flowers of this plant. By the following weekend after the peak, Groover said all of the flowers will be gone until next year. The first festival was held in 1938. 2. Sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) is found in limited spots of northeastern Pennsylvania, which is the southern extreme of its range. 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. ... Fallingwater is a program of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. This would be a beautiful place to be in the spring or early summer when they bloom. Good. Bog laurel (Kalmia polifolia) occurs in sphagnum bogs of northeastern Pennsylvania, which is again the southern extreme of its range. A brilliant flowering shrub-tree, the rhododendron has more than a thousand species, although only 27 (including azaleas) are native to North America. The 77th annual Pennsylvania State Laurel Festival runs through Sunday, June 17, in Wellsboro. 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. ... the recommended time to prune is immediately after blooming. Although not as spectacular as the mountain laurel it is still something you don’t want to miss if you love flowers and nature. In general, it’s common for most species (including hybrids) of rhododendrons and azaleas, to bloom in the springtime. 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. Rosebay’s big clumps of whitish flowers appear in June at the lower elevation and from July into August at the middle altitudes. Here’s more about this stunning flowering shrub—which are easy to grow as long as you have the right conditions. Following the Trails of Appalachian Living. 1. 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. Drought/dry soil as rhodies prefer to be constantly moist. Its leaves are lance-shaped, leathery, glossy and dark green, and measure 3-4 inches in length. 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. I have never seen so many and so large. Rhododendrons have much bigger flowers than azaleas, bloom later, and are open, not dense. 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. The rhododendron is one of the most eye-catching shrubs in the home landscape, with beautiful blooms and lush foliage. Even honey made from mountain laurel pollen is toxic.”. The colorful spectacle even spreads into eastern Tennessee, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. Community Rules apply to all content you upload or otherwise submit to this site. In the Appalachians, the early arrival of the colorful blossoms is a harbinger of spring, a welcome and beautiful sight after a mountain winter. But there are no legal restrictions on the cultivation of mountain laurel.". All green parts of the mountain laurel are poisonous and can be fatal to both humans and animals. The flowers appear earlier in the southern reaches of the Appalachians, so Pennsylvania often doesn’t see rhododendrons until June or even July. This is a sweet little park that has protection for a rare species of Rhododendrons (native). Spring is in full bloom in the garden, and at the center of it all is the Sundial Garden. The flowers appear earlier in the southern reaches of the Appalachians, so Pennsylvania often doesn’t see rhododendrons until June or even July. High-Summer: The … Rosebay rhododendron is the most common rhododendron in the Smokies. Depending on the elevation, the peak viewing time typically occurs from late April to late May. “Why is the plant confused?” you want to know, and “Will it still flower next spring?” They bloom later than the common ones, so head there 2-4 weeks after the other Rhodies have finished. The stamens, which are the male, pollen-producing part of the flower, are arched with their tips held under the rim of the flower. By Marcus Schneck | mschneck@pennlive.com. 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. If you've been noticing rhododendrons blooming across the Poconos and wish they could be in your yard, take heart. Answer: It’s often said that the best time to trim a rhododendron bush is in … When blooming they produce beautiful white flowers. My favorite among our garden’s March-bloomers is the rhododendron that grows behind the waterfall. 3. Depending on the elevation, the peak viewing time typically occurs from late April to late May. Now here’s how to grow rhododendrons in the South. They are great for landscaping and produce beautiful flowers in the spring and summer. There are several reasons why your rhododendron is not blooming. In most of Pennsylvania, mountain laurel typically blooms from late May through mid-June, just before summer arrives on June 21. Part 1 The bloom season for Pennsylvania’s official state flower has arrived, ushering in the calendar change from spring to summer. Fortunately, rhododendrons and azaleas that bloom in late winter and early spring also grace our Seattle Japanese Garden. "Rhododendrons International" Vol. 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. 5 RI is an online journal distributed free to everyone that contains articles of broad interest. The bell-like flower of the mountain laurel has an unusual way to dispense its pollen. The acid-loving plants are easy to … Can be found commonly in both Virginia and North Carolina. You can keep your rhododendrons healthy and looking the way you want them to by pruning in your style and at the right time of year. Mountain laurel average 4-10 feet in height, although in the southeastern U.S. some specimens have been documented at 40 feet. In June our state flower, the mountain laurel, blooms and puts on a beautiful show here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. 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. Maybe there are one or two flowers opening…or perhaps the entire shrub is in bloom. 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 rosebay’s are one of the parks most common woody plants. All rights reserved (About Us). 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). Mountain laurel is a familiar site to most Pennsylvanians, but here are some things you might not know. I have two rhododendrons in my front yard that are looking very straggly. Rhododendrons offer tremendous variety in color, shape and size–the result of centuries of hybridization, improving flower color, hardiness and bloom time. Rhododendrons are easy care plants that will thrive for decades if simple requirements are met. The blooms then start popping out in South Carolina and into North Carolina, following the Blue Ridge Parkway into Virginia. It typically blooms at the end of June well into July. The Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs through the Appalachian Mountains from southwestern North Carolina up into Virginia, provides excellent vistas for flower-chasers. Rhododendrons are beautiful shrubs/trees that grow in almost all areas of the world. 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. The further south you get and the lower in altitude, the earlier the flowers bloom. Not every rosebay rhododendron in the park blooms every year. The Rosebay Rhododendrons are the most common rhododendrons in the Smokies. Weather. Mountain laurel is a member of the heath family, Ericaceae, which also includes azaleas, blueberries, cranberries, huckleberries and rhododendron. Rhododendron blooms range in color from white to yellow, pink, orange, red and purple. Since the rhododendrons’ colors are most vibrant when they first blossom, finding them is a time-sensitive matter. 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). Planting different varieties of rhododendrons that bloom at slightly different times of the year is also a way to extend the enjoyment. The bloom season for Pennsylvania’s official state flower has arrived, ushering in the calendar … Flowering season. The first flowers typically appear in late March in northern Georgia, from Atlanta to the Southern Appalachian Mountains. In the Southern Appalachians, they can grow to 25 feet or higher. Mountain laurel is one of the few broad-leaved plants native to Pennsylvania that do not lose their leaves in the winter. Consequently, the taxonomy has been historically complex.. © 2020 Advance Local Media LLC. After the … A pair of close relatives to mountain laurel also are native to Pennsylvania. You with me so far? April 28. Too much shade/not enough light. Mountain laurel is found across most of the Pennsylvania and is particularly abundant in the mountainous regions. In early April, the southern end of the Parkway is ablaze with brilliant hues. Unlike birds, the plants don’t migrate, but the blossoms do, in a sense. Too late, and the flowers will have faded. Rhododendrons bloom in the spring, but exactly when the best time to find them depends on the weather, temperature, elevation and soil conditions. The deciduous varieties common in the Central Appalachian Mountains flourish in the higher elevations and cooler temperatures. 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. 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. The park is over flowing with big healthy beautiful rhododendrons. “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. Too early, and you’ll find no flowers. It’s mid-October and your Rhododendron or azalea, normally spring bloomers, is in flower. The Western Pennsylvania Laurel Festival will run Saturday, June 16, through Sunday, June 24, in Brookville. Soon, I hope, the flower buds of early-blooming rhododendrons will begin to open. Give them what they need, and they’ll give you what you need (without having to chase them) every spring. Wrong variety for climate. Many garden shops throughout the mountains have rhododendron varieties for sale. Mileposts 29, 85.8, 136-138, 272-275, 311.2 Buds do not set or get frost-nipped or destroyed by cold, drying winds. 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. It’s close relative the rhododendron, also a native species, puts on its show in early July. Always watch the amount of nitrogen you’re giving your plant if it seems to be growing lots of new leaves without producing any flowers – it’s a sure sign you need to back off the feeding. 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. Pinchot chose to sign the mountain laurel bill into law on May 5, 1933. by an enclosed fence within the park. Of course, if you’re a gardener, you can buy rhododendron bushes or trees to transplant in your own yard. 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. The festival includes a carnival, family games and activities, parade, pet parade, bands, car and truck show, ice cream social, author signing event, street performers, plastic duck races and the Fat Tire Challenge mountain bike race through the Laurel Fields in Clear Creek State Forest. While the plants are hardy, do your research to make sure you live in a region favorable to these plants. When do the rhododendron bloom? 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. In other words, the flowers rarely appear at the same time every year. Answer: There are some rhododendrons that exhibit fall bloom, and it seems like late October and early November are the times where this is most noticeable. 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. 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.. Pruning Rhododendron Guide Feed your rhododendron all you like in the spring, but by late summer, you need to cut back on both fertilizer and water to give the plant just enough stress to encourage blooming. Nearby, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the rhododendrons at the lower elevations flower in April to early May, but the higher elevations don’t show their color until June. It was the brainchild of local businessman Larry Woodin, who was hoping to boost a sagging economy by promoting the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. First Pennsylvania wildflowers of the year, Centralia fields of wild flowers and naturalized domestics, No need to wait for fall for a pretty drive: Wildflowers are in prime bloom. When a pollinator lands on the flowers, its weight releases the stamen, which flips its pollen like a catapult. 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. The flowers with the most dazzling colors, though, appear in the mountains. Sambucus canadensis. Weston Nurseries has been raising and introducing new varieties for some seventy-five years. They are protected from deer (which we have seen!) Different rhododendron species bloom at different times of the year, normally from late March to late June. It thrives around streams and in ravines at elevations below 5,000 feet. Photo credits: campbearcabins.com, flickr.com, Asheville Website Design by The Wired MouseWebsite Edited by Ray Access, About Simply Appalachian and Becky Rogers. Temperatures and other weather conditions can trigger an early season or a late season, while different rhododendron species typically blossom at different times. More than 75 named cultivars of mountain laurel have been developed in the nursery trade. the foliage gets a nice Fall color, too. Teets says “the” state flower is in bloom now in Barbour and Upshur counties, which includes Audra State Park. 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. The Conservancy is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and 100% of your donation is tax-deductible as allowed by law. Date of experience: October 2015 Roads through forested areas statewide are arriving in their annual burst of clusters of white to pink blossoms. The Pennsylvania General Assembly had passed two bills naming a state flower – one the mountain laurel and the other the pink azalea. PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Officials are warning Pennsylvania residents to check their rhododendrons plants due to possible exposure to a virus. Azaleas that bloom in the home landscape, with beautiful blooms and puts a. Laurel it is still something you don’t want to miss if you 've been noticing blooming. 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