We are all looking for that blue rhododendron, but last time I looked all of the ones with "blue" in their name had purple flowers. 'Blue Admiral', 'Blue and Gold', 'Blue Angel', 'Blue Baron', 'Blue Bird', 'Bluebell', 'Bluebird', 'Blue Blood', 'Blue Boy', 'Blue Chip', 'Blue Cloud', 'Blue Crown', 'Blue Danube', 'Blue Dawn', 'Blue Diamond', 'Blue Effect', 'Blue Ensign', 'Blue Flame', 'Blue Frost', 'Blue Girl', 'Blue Hawaii', 'Blue Haze', 'Blue Heaven', 'Blue Horizon', 'Blue Ice', 'Blue Jay', 'Blue Lady', 'Blue Lagoon', 'Blue Light', 'Blue Mist', 'Blue Monday', 'Blue Moon', the list goes on and on. It is obvious that the hybridizers wanted blue, but alas, the blue gene is not to be found in the genus Rhododendron.
Mind you, some of these rhododendrons are nice plants, but their flowers are definitely not blue colored. I am even responsible by naming a hybrid 'Amiblue'.
So, let's look beyond the flowers, they are only visible for a short time anyway. How about foliage? There are many rhododendrons with blue leaves, well almost blue, closer to dark greenish blue, but quite evident in the garden among the other shades of green.
My favorite blue rhododendron species are: R. campanulatum ssp. aeruginosum, R. clementinae, and R. lepidostylum. I am sure there are many other also, but those are the ones I have in my garden. These are generally not found in your local garden center, but are available from many specialty rhododendron growers, such as the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden.
I am sure some of you may have other blue rhododendron ideas, and I welcome your comments on this blog.