En Español

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

When Should I Prune Texas Sage?
July 07, 2016 - How and when do you prune Texas sage to encourage thicker foliage?
view the full question and answer

Low evergreen drought-resistant shrubs for area in partial shade
January 03, 2014 - I promised my mom to help her with some new plants for her house, so here goes. She lives near Waco on Blackland clay soil. The problem area is right in front of the house. It only receives a few hour...
view the full question and answer

Name for paloverde look-alike near Colorado Springs
July 26, 2011 - I don't know where this plant comes from. However, I am wondering what the name of plant of the following description would be. It is a shrub, about 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. It grows in zone 6 t...
view the full question and answer

Plants for under a fountain splash line in California
January 29, 2009 - What plants should we plant under our fountain's splash line in our Mediterranean style courtyard? The area will get wet from the fountain's splashing and have "full" sun. We are on a rock ridge...
view the full question and answer

Butterfly Plants for Chicago
September 13, 2014 - I live near Chicago, IL and am interested in planting a butterfly garden. Not sure when to start, but I want all native plants that would attract butterflies. Can you please let me know which plants ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center