Alpenrose

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Howey
Title: Guest
Joined: 2010-05-17
Alpenrose

Since a trip to Switzerland a few years back, I've hankered after an Alpenrose (Rhododendron ferruginium). Actually, they weren't in flower when I was there in August, but they appeared to be one of the "important" flowers of this country. I believe Rhodies in general are not that easy to grow in London, Ontario. However, I continually ordered seeds of this plant from the various seedexes. Mostly there was no germination but this year there are three tiny green "pin dots" which don't seem to be getting any bigger but have persisted for a while now. I'm wondering if this is it and how long do they generally take to achieve more size. Anyone have experience with this plant?

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

I grew Rhododendron schlippenbachii seeds once in straight peat.  I don't have a clue as to how the natural vigor of that and R. ferruginium compare.  But they did start out as "pin dots."  However even in nutrient poor sphagnum peat, I don't recall them being initially "stagnant in growth.  At their second pair of tiny leaves, I gave them a dilute fertilizer solution, and they responded very favorably.

I know this isn't such ground shaking information, but I really just wanted to post to say:

Welcome to the Forum!

I think Todd (Boland), among others, might have some good advice here.  But I believe he is still on vacation.

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

I have grown quite a few Rhodos from seed but not ferrugineum, and they always start as very small plants. If you don't feed them (very carfully though as Rick says) the seedlings is very slow growers. I usually repot when they have got 2-4 new leaves using soil from pine forests or spruce forests.

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Boland
Boland's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-25

Welcome Howey,

I have grown ferrugineum for years..they grow very well in St. John's, newfoundland so you should have no problems in Toronto as long as you provide an acidic soil.  I surface-sow seed and place saran wrap over the pot to provide 100% humidity (I use 100% peat which I moisten with boiling water).  Keep them in bright light and seeds will germinate in 2-3 weeks.  I leave the cover on until 2-3 true leaves show.  I then remove the plastic but leave the plants in the pot for most of the summer...sometime even for the winter if plants are small.  The earlier you sow, the larger the plants will be by autumn....I often sow in Feb.  R. ferrugineum would take about 5-6 years to reach flowering size if plants are grown well.  I grow mine in full sun as they grow in the wild.  Perhaps in Toronto, shade from hottest afternoon sun would be advised.

Hope this helps.

Todd Boland
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
Zone 5b
1800 mm precipitation per year

Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

Howey wrote:

Since a trip to Switzerland a few years back, I've hankered after an Alpenrose (Rhododendron ferruginium).  Actually, they weren't in flower when I was there in August, but they appeared to be one of the "important" flowers of this country.  I believe Rhodies in general are not that easy to grow in London, Ontario.  However, I continually ordered seeds of this plant from the various seedexes.  Mostly there was no germination but this year there are three tiny green "pin dots" which don't seem to be getting any bigger but have persisted for a while now.  I'm wondering if this is it and how long do they generally take to achieve more size. Anyone have experience with this plant?   

/ to the Forum.  Since they were not in bloom for you and a picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words, I'm posting a picture to increase your "hankering".  Pictures taken in the Dolomites of this incredibly beautiful rhododendron.

Howey
Title: Guest
Joined: 2010-05-17

Many thanks to Rick, Hoy, Todd and Spiegel for your responses to Alpenrose and your warm welcome to me.  The photograph was lovely but 6 years from seed to flower is a long time to wait - don't know why I seem to be attracted to the plants that take their time flowering, like lilies and the New Zealand Sophora - I'm getting too old for that stuff!  And, since my soil is not acidic, that provides another problem for a lot of the plants I would like to grow.  However, I note that you, Todd, will be the speaker at the first meeting of the Ontario Rock Garden Society in Toronto in September - so I look forward to meeting you there and hearing more about the alpine treasures of the St. John's Botanic Garden and probably receive a little encouragement to keep on trying.

Frances Howey
London, Ontario, Canada
Zone 5b

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