You might want to shield your retinas from the blazing color of Rhododendron ‘Hershey’s Red,’ a brilliant-colored azalea that is hardy to Zone 6 (although some say Zone 5). This variety is a Kurume hybrid from Japan, growing only about 3 feet tall and wide. If you search for it online, you will notice that it is described as evergreen, deciduous and semi-deciduous. In the long run, few azaleas are planted for their foliage. It can be a long-lived azalea – 40 years – if in the perfect conditions: well-drained, highly acidic and organic soil. The Kurume hybrids have a lengthy pedigree, hailing from the mountains of Japan about 300 years ago. There have been about 700 hybrids created since then, according to the Azalea Society of America, with 200 known cultivars today. The first imports to the United States came in 1915, but a more recent import came via the National Arboretum, which brought 50 more varieties to the country, releasing them for public sales in 1983.
Submitted by Joy Meyers
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