Rhododendron 'HALFDAN LEM'

Rhododendron 'HALFDAN LEM'
SIZE/TYPE medium-sized shrub
USUAL WIDTH 1.5-2.5m
LEAVES evergreen broadleaf
LOCATION semi-shade / partial sun
USDA zone (lowest) 6   (down to -23°C)
FOR ZONE 5+6 Code of winter protection zone 5+6
FOR ZONE 7 Code of winter protection zone 7
BELONGS TO CATEGORIES Rhododendrons, azaleas, and mountain laurels
Evergreen broadleaf
náhled fotonáhled fotonáhled foto
Rhododendrons are reliable, beautifully flowering, evergreen shrubs of variable origin: S.W. China, Himalayas, Northern America, and even Europe. The original species were hybridized several times for better performance so in the 1950´s there were more than 10,000 cultivars registered, and the number keeps increasing.

Halfdan Lem is a unique rhododendron masterpiece from 1967, bred by an American breeder born in Norway only 2 years before his departure from this world. Some believe that it was his very last variety. He may have felt the same as he was already ill at that time, and perhaps as he knew his time was ticking away, he did something he had never done in his breeding career before – he named this plant after himself. Like a farewell with a wish to be remembered.

It is a cross between varieties The Honourable Jean Marie de Montague and Red Loderi and produces 8-10 cm large, broadly funnel-shaped flowers with slightly wavy margins. They emerge dark rosy red and mature to softer pink in the throat with darker margins. Halfdan Lem rhododendron belongs among the best varieties when it comes to foliage beauty. Its evergreen leaves are large, 15-20 cm long, dark olive green, partially glossy, leathery but thinner than most other hybrids, and undulated. In autumn and winter they exhibit rosy red colour of stalks and flower buds. The plant grows moderately to fast into a large shrub with a flattened top, about 2.5 m tall and wide in maturity.

Halfdan Lem (1886-1969) was an American rhododendron breeder born in Norway and educated by private tutors to become a perfect gentleman. He established his home and family in Alaska where he was a partner in three fish processing plants. From his mother he inherited a love for plants and occasionally he made trips to get some decent seedlings for his garden in Ketchikan. Not many were successful in harsh Alaskan climate. Before he turned 40 he received a book about rhododendrons, full of drawings and descriptions of plants so beautiful he had never seen before. He was fascinated by them and began his search for these beauties to grow in his garden. Within 10 years he, his wife, and plenty of rhododendron saplings moved to Seattle in USA where he decided to establish a rhododendron nursery. Strangely, many of his hardy plants used to tough Alaskan weather died over the first winter. But it did not put him off and he soon made friends with other breeders and spent hours talking about breeding and multiplying to succeed. And he did. During his active life he bred a range of beautiful, mostly large-flowered varieties for which he was awarded by the ARS the highest award – Gold Medal. Still, his wife once said that he had felt proudest when the king of Norway, when he toured USA, visited him and was presented one of Halfdan’s novelties which he took with him and planted in the Royal Gardens where it stands until today. It was named King Olav V.

For a better-looking plant deadhead rhododendrons where possible. The roots are shallow, spreading to sides in search for nutrients. Never plant them too deep. The soil must well-drained, acidic (of pH value 4.5-5.5), rich in humus, cool, and always moist. Ideal soil mixture is peat with lime-free, light garden soil topped with leaf-mould. It is hardy to min. -23°C (USDA zone 6) and may withstand a few degrees lower (more trials pending).

Last update 21-01-2009; 26-01-2021

  • STANDARD QUALITY - Plants of this group are 1st class quality with number of branches and overall density adequate to their size and age, considering they were container grown.
  • DE LUXE QUALITY - This label guarantees a luxurious quality of manually selected plants that, compared to their height and age, are exceptionally dense and beautiful.
  • EXTRA - These plants are usually mature and bigger specimens with exceptional overall appearance.
  • STANDARD (as described in the plant form) means a tree with a trunk of 190-210 cm and a crown at the top, unless specified differently. The commercial size for trees is their girth measured in the height of 1m from ground.
  • HOBBY - These plants are of the same quality as our standard-quality plants but younger and therefore cheaper.
  • SHRUB - a woody plant with branches growing bushy from the ground level.
  • HALF-STANDARD or MINI-STANDARD - a small tree with shorter trunk, its size is usually specified.
  • FEATHERED - These are trees with branches growing already from the base of the trunk and up along the stem.
  • GRASSES and PERENNIALS - Sizes given usually read the diameter of the pot or the clump, as specified.
LARGE PLANTS over 150 cmspecimens, screening and hedging shrubs

This site uses cookies to provide services and traffic analysis - here you can find details. I use this site for further use of this site ACCEPT.