Plant Collector: Rhododendron Rubicon

Rhododendron Rubicon - in our opinion, the best big red in the country.

Rhododendron Rubicon – in our opinion, the best big red in the country.

In the world of red rhododendrons, Rubicon stands clear of the rest – at least in my opinion. It is the purest of reds without that common tendency to develop pink tones as it ages, has lovely foliage and a very tidy, rounded habit. It is pretty much perfect in that big full truss class. I should perhaps have qualified my first sentence by saying in the New Zealand world of red rhododendrons because I don’t know how successful it has been overseas but it sure beats the imported varieties we grow. It was bred by the late Ron Gordon from Taihape and first became available in the late 1980s. It is a cross between Kilimanjaro and Noyo Chief and it is superior to both its parents though it was the latter which contributed the good dark, heavily veined foliage that is a feature of Rubicon.

The one downside for us is that Rubicon can get attacked by thrips – those nasty, leaf sucking critters which turn rhododendron leaves silver. Because our plant is in such a prominent position, it is one of the few Mark will spray here. He uses an insecticide but other people report good results using Neem oil to beat thrips.

Rubicon is widely available on the market in this country and is an essential in any collection.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.