Rhododendron intracatum – The unusual lavender-blue flowers are borne in small trusses and really catch the eye at a distance. These emerge from April to May in coastal BC and contrast nicely against the small green leaves, which shift to a mahogany-red in winter. Grows near limestone in its native China, so it may tolerate higher soil pH. Grows 2-3′ high. Hardy to zone 7.
Rhododendron lepidotum var. album – This variety was first discovered in 1930 and introduced into cultivation in 1961. The pale green buds have a distinct pink tip and open to creamy-white blooms (from April to May), often with a pink blush. It grows much smaller in its native habitat of rock crevices in Nepal and Bhutan. Grows 2-5′ high. Hardy to zone 6.
Rhododendron orthocladum – This native of China features variable blooms of light violet to lavender-blue or even dark purple (as shown), but is occasionally white with a pink blush – it begins flowering in April. The shrub itself is well-branched with narrow deep green leaves that usually form a dense canopy. Part to full sun. Grows 2-4′ high. Hardy to zone 6.
Rhododendron polycladum (syn. R. compactum, R. scintillans) – This species has been in cultivation since 1913 and is native to China, where it is found on rocky cliffs, forest edges and alpine meadows. Rhododendron polycladum features purplish-blue to lavender flowers in mid spring which are borne over deep green leaves. Grows 2-3′ high and wide. Hardy to zone 7.
Rhododendron saluenense ssp. chameunum (syn. R. prostratum, Prostratum Group)- This native of Burma, Tibet and the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of China has been in cultivation since 1914. It bears royal purple funnel-shaped flowers with darker spotting on the face which open around April in coastal BC. Makes a beautiful rock garden specimen. Grows 2′ high by 2-3′ wide. Z6.