Pollinators, like bumblebees, love plants with lots of pollen and flowers, and the deciduous Rhodies fit that description perfectly. Without lots of pollinators there would be no food. Native Rhododendrons get the bugs off to a fast springtime start. And do they ever bloom like crazy. The most common one in the Southeast is Rhododendron canescens, and it grows wild throughout our property.
All these pictures are current, and that is one honking large shrub. The great Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Texas says R. canescens never gets more than eight feet tall–this one is 9.5 feet, and still growing.
The flower structure is fascinating, and helps to explain the common name of “Honeysuckle Bush.”
Though not native to our property, the other very early blooming Rhody is Rhododendron flammeum, also known as the Oconee Flame Azalea, as deciduous Rhodies are often called “Azaleas.” It’s an eye catcher.
This plant is even more attractive close up.
These require marginally more water than the R. canescens, but we never water the wild ones anyway. That’s the way they have survived for centuries on their own. Here’s the view into one of our Rhody groves. I’ve lost track of how many species we have, and I will write about the others, in the sequence of their blooming cycle.
The yellow one that is about to bloom is Rhododendron austrinum, and it makes a massive plant with hundreds of blooms. I’ll write about it next. We are going to have the happiest bees in the neighborhood.