A modern vireya hybrid

Photo of a vireya rhododendron hybrid
Rhododendron praetervisum x ‘Doctor Hermann Sleumer’

As a complement to Rhododendron ‘Princess Alexandra’, the Victorian vireya that I wrote about in June, here is a more recent vireya hybrid. This plant is Rhododendron praetervisum x ‘Doctor Hermann Sleumer’, so its parentage is R. praetervisum x (konori var phaeopeplum x zoelleri). R. zoelleri has been known since the 1890s, but the type specimen of R. konori var. phaeopeplum was collected in 1939, and the type of R. praetervisum in 1965 [1]. The cross was made by Richard Currie in his New Zealand garden, presumably in the late 1970s or 1980s. One plant of this cross was registered as Rhododendron ‘Cheeky’ but I am not certain if my plant is a division of that cultivar or a sibling.

I previously grew a plant of R. praetervisum, but it never thrived, flowered infrequently, and died after about five years. I’m hopeful that this plant will exhibit hybrid vigor and, perhaps, inherit heat tolerance from R. zoelleri (native altitude range sea level-2000 m [1]). I purchased it in April, and it grew well in my shade house during the summer and has already flowered twice.

Incidentally, Hermann Sleumer was a botanist at the Rijksherbarium in Leiden who described hundreds of new vireya Rhododendron species in the 1950s and 60s, making him one of the most important names in the modern era of vireya cultivation. Both R. praetervisum and R. konori var phaeopeplum (as R. phaeopeplum) were described by Dr Sleumer.

Reference

1. Argent, G. (2015) Rhododendrons of subgenus Vireya, 2nd edition. Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.

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