Rhododendron 'QUEEN BEE'

Rhododendron  'QUEEN BEE'
SIZE/TYPE medium-sized shrub
LEAVES evergreen broadleaf
COLOUR OF LEAVES +multicoloured:orange and green
COLOUR OF FLOWERS +multicolored:white and pink
LOCATION full to partial sun
SOIL TYPE acidic (peaty)
SOIL MOISTURE REQUIREMENTS evenly moist but well-drained
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
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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.

Queen Bee, sometimes also called Berg's Queen Bee after its breeder Warren Berg, is a rhododendron hybrid, a cross between the Japanese species r. yakushimanum and the Indian species r. tsariense. Due to its latter parent it belongs to the sub-section lanata (wooly), which includes species and varieties with a conspicuous indumentum on both sides of the leaves. It has to be said that Queen Bee is a member of honour in this group as it is absolutely amazing and you will immediately understand why it was named so. Its young foliage is densely covered with an impenetrable layer of honey-orange indumentum which turns silvery-gray and disappears a few months after the leaves have fully matured. They are evergreen, broadly elliptic, 8-9 cm long, 3-3.5 cm wide, and after the indumentum disappear they reveal its dark green and glossy surface.

From late April to mid-May, deep pink buds burst into almost white flowers with pale pink hues closer to the throat. Its habit is rather compact and mounding due to its first parent, and the plant tolerates full sun. It grows to about one meter in height and a little more in width. Although its flowers are pretty, it is mostly cultivated for the fantastic colour of young leaves which is present on the plant in various portions throughout the growing season. In the ericaceous border it is best combined with similar rhododendron and azalea specialties with attractive foliage colour.

The variety was bred by an important American collector and breeder of rhododendrons Warren Berg (1923-2006) and registered in 1969. He was a life member of the ARS (American Rhododendron Society), where he received the highest honour, the Gold Medal for his lifetime contribution to the species. Although his civilian occupation was completely different - he was a commercial pilot for 35 years after World War II - he often went on expeditions, especially to Asia (China, Japan, South Korea, Bhutan, Tibet), where he collected seeds and experience about many so far unknown species which he then studied and introduced in America. Regardless of his age, he was a computer enthusiast and was able to teach much younger colleagues how to use computers at work, ensuring greater awareness of everyone’s achievements. His friends all describe him as a generous enthusiast who sent his cuttings and newly bred varieties not only to the Botanical Garden in Federal Way, Washington, specialized in rhododendrons, and where he sent over 900 of his plants to, but also enjoyed giving them away to other enthusiasts and plant lovers whether for further research or just to make them happy in a private garden.

For a better-looking plant deadhead rhododendrons where possible. They are not supposed to be pruned but may be rejuvenated if needed. You can either wait until the flowers have bloomed or prune it immediately after all frosts in late winter. This will result in quicker regeneration since the sap will wake up dormant buds as opposed to feeding the flower buds which will lead to a certain level of exhaustion. 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 at least -23 °C (USDA zone 6) but is expected to withstand a few degrees lower (results of further trials pending).

Last update 27-12-2022
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Rhododendron  'QUEEN BEE' height 30-40 cm

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  • 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.
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LARGE PLANTS over 150 cmspecimens, screening and hedging shrubs

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