This beautifully scented yellow rhododendron is nestled next to the Harlow Carr stream. The wafts of scent are quite intoxicating and a source of puzzlement as visitors don’t suspect a rhododendron can smell this good! We have another group of these lovely shrubs alongside the steps on the way up to the Doric Columns in the woodland. They are definitely worth a pause to take in the perfumed blooms.
- Common name
- Yellow azalea
- Height & spread
- 2.5 to 4m (8 to13ft) high and wide
- Deciduous shrub
- Humus rich, acid soil (pH 4.5 to 5.5)
- Prefers full sun
- Fully hardy
The Rhododendron genus comprises around 1,000 species of trees and shrubs. Its range is scattered in northern temperate regions and extends into the Southern Hemisphere in South East Asia and it just reaches Australia. However there are two distinct areas of concentration: South West China (Yunnan, Sichuan, Xizang) with adjacent Burma and India, and Papua New Guinea.
Rhododendron is one of the most diverse genera in the plant kingdom. The majority are evergreen shrubs, many with ornamental foliage and attractive bark, and nearly all with showy attractive flowers. Nearly the whole spectrum of colours is represented in the flowers, and only the true blues are missing. Several are sweetly scented, the majority of these are white-flowered.
The hardiness of rhododendrons is also very variable, from fully hardy to frost-tender, but unfortunately the flowers are all susceptible to frost damage, especially when fully open.
This bushy, medium-sized deciduous azalea has both bright, fragrant spring flowers and good autumn colour. It has an open habit, with oblong leaves turning orange, purple and red in autumn. In late spring to early summer it bears very fragrant bright yellow, funnel-shaped flowers 5cm in width and 3.5cm long in trusses of seven to 12.
- Nearly all rhododendrons demand a humus-rich acid soil, ideally a pH of 4.5 to 5.5.
- Shallow planting is essential as rhododendrons are surface-rooting.
- This species tolerates partial shade but prefers full sun.
- Rhododendrons do not require regular pruning and most are best left to grow naturally. You can rejuvenate old plants with severe pruning.
- If practical, remove spent flowers. This is important in newly planted rhododendrons to help them establish.
- Susceptible to vine weevil, aphids, caterpillars, powdery mildews, a leaf spot, and lime-induced chlorosis if the soil is not sufficiently acid.
The RHS Rhododendron and Camellia Committee awarded Rhododendron luteum an Award of Garden Merit and described it as:
'Bushy medium-sized deciduous shrub of open growth, with oblong leaves turning orange, purple and red in autumn. Very fragrant bright yellow, funnel-shaped flowers 5cm wide.'