Today was one of those gloomy days that left me wanting to escape to a tropical paradise. The grey clouds, moldy temps, and stillness created a blank slate of blah. That is until I went out into my backyard to find one of my tropical treasures blooming its buds off. Friends, let me introduce you to Rhododendron rarum. It comes to us from Papau New Guinea. Ever been? Me either, but the good news is that this plant and other tropical rhododendrons are available outside of this mountainous country. Unlike most rhododendrons, Rhododendron rarum is a special because, although it is considered a small shrub, it actually vines. The flowers of it, as you can see, are fiery hot with red and pink color. This is the color of passion, desire, and love. On a dreary day, I say give it to me.
Rhododendron rarum is an epiphytic shrub. In habitat, it tends to grow on tree trunks or old stumps in the mossy and mountainous forests of Papau New Guinea. It can grow up to 4 feet in length. Its thin cinnamon-colored stems are outfitted with occasional clusters of luscious lance-like foliage the richest color of green. During the months of autumn, winter, and spring, at the ends of its wondering stems, flower buds with a velour-like texture burst open to release rich red trumpets of bloom. The look is like a fiery floral volcano has just exploded. The flowers hang pendulously, facing their gaze downward, droppin' it like it's hot. Definitely the floral superblast needed to brighten up a dreary day.
Rhododendron rarum likes shady conditions, excellent drainage, and regular water. Mine is potted up in a mix of orchid bark, coconut coir, and a sprinkling of pumice. It looks awesome in a hanging container especially in flower. Just keep it protected from the wind or grow it indoors. If you're experiencing some gloomy day symptoms might I suggest you do yourself a favor and set the day on fire with a blaze of blooms with something like a Rhododendron rarum. Get yours today.