Rhododendron occidentale is a stunning native shrub. One of the loveliest rhododendrons on the planet, and it is a native to the Pacific Northwest and California. A choice native plant for our gardens west of the Cascades because of its beautiful markings. Almost every Northwest garden has some kind of rhododendron growing in its boundaries so why not include our native too?
Difficult to grow outside the Pacific Northwest and California, Rhododendron occidentale it is found in thickets around moist areas, seepages and creek sides in the mountains and foothills along the Pacific coast of southwest Oregon to southern California. Professor Kruckeberg once recommended planting our native azalea in massed plantings, interspersed with evergreens. What a sight that would be and the fragrance intoxicating.
The western azalea, used extensively in breeding programs, is a parent plant for many highly sought after hybrids, especially for adding fragrance. Some of its offspring include ‘Delicatissimum’, ‘Exquisitum’ and ‘Irene Koster’. All won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. Although its progeny grows easily outside our region, R. occidentale itself is not easy to maintain outside the region.