Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - June 15, 2012

From: Millinocket, ME
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Orange rhododendrons for Millinocket ME
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Where will I find orange rhododendron in Maine? Or orange rhododendron that will thrive in Maine?

ANSWER:

A little research told us that you are in Penobscot County, in Central Maine, where the USDA Hardiness Zone is 4b to 5a, pretty cold winters. We then went to our Native Plant Database and searched on rhododendron. Listed were 24 native to North America and 6 native to Maine. As we did more research. we found that in the South these plants were often referred to as azaleas; in Europe and the Northeast they retain the genus name Rhododendron. We even found, on a forum, a request for an orange rhododendron, NOT the azalea. But, in fact, they are the same - Rhododendron austrinum (Orange azalea). You will see from this USDA Plant Profile that it does not grow anywhere in the Northeast, but only in southeastern states.

Since another common name for this plant is Florida Flame Azalea, you might also be interested in this article from Floridata, which states that it will thrive in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones of 6 to 10. Another source says 7 to 9; either way, your climate seems to be out of the range. As you were asking where you could buy it, we assumed you had not been able to purchase it in your area, this is probably why. While we always recommend that plants used be native not only to North America but to the area where they grow naturally as well, there is nothing to stop you from finding somewhere that you can get it by mail order, but we think it would be doomed, and you would have spent precious resources, money, water and labor to no purpose.

Here are the rhododendrons that are native to Maine; while none of them are orange they are all lovely, and you could buy them in your area. Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to find out its growing conditions, light needs, preferred soils, etc. Go to our National Suppliers Directory, put your town and state or zip code in the "Enter Search Location" box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and consultants in your general area. All have contact information so you can inquire before you start driving.

Rhododendron canadense (Rhodora)

Rhododendron lapponicum (Lapland rhododendron)

Rhododendron lapponicum var. lapponicum (Lapland rosebay)

Rhododendron maximum (Great laurel)

Rhododendron prinophyllum (Early azalea)

Rhododendron viscosum (Swamp azalea)

 

From the Image Gallery


Orange azalea
Rhododendron austrinum

Rhodora
Rhododendron canadense

Lapland rhododendron
Rhododendron lapponicum

Great laurel
Rhododendron maximum



Swamp azalea
Rhododendron viscosum

More Shrubs Questions

Native plants for flower beds in Aledo, TX
March 10, 2009 - I have 2 beds that together run the length of the house foundation (25' each), we have 2 spots I would like to plant a Yaupon (Pride of Houston) in each spot approximately 2' from the foundation;is ...
view the full question and answer

Living blooming plants for November wedding in Austin
April 07, 2014 - I am an environmental educator whose daughter is getting married in Austin in November. I would like to use living blooming native plants as decorations and then donate them to a local school to plan...
view the full question and answer

Identification of eleagnus-like shrub
August 21, 2007 - There is a plant on our land I can't identify. It has a tree-like smooth light gray "trunk", with leaves similar to an eleagnus (grayish green and rough on top, lighter underneath). I can't find...
view the full question and answer

Vascular wilt in Rhus virens
June 22, 2007 - Hi Smarty: Our evergreen sumac grew beautifully this spring (it is about 2 years old -- we got it at the LBJ Wildflower Center plant sale). Then its leaves suddenly drooped last month (May) and turn...
view the full question and answer

Pruning buttonbush from Pottsville PA
December 10, 2013 - In a formally planted park, a small area has become swampy. I have choosen to plant it with wet tolerant native plants. I would appreciate any suggestions on pruning the buttonbush [Cephalanthus occ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.