Article Copied from the American Rhododendron Society Blog

Print date: 8/22/2014

Rhododendron 'Mary Fleming'

9 April 2011 @ 23:24 | Posted by Norma

Rhododendron 'Mary Fleming' is in full bloom now.  This well-behaved plant is a nice addition to a border or small garden since it doesn't get very big, maybe 3 feet tall or so in 15 years.  In addition to the plant itself being small, 'Mary Fleming' has small leaves, and like many small-leaved rhodies in my garden, R. 'Mary Fleming' can take full sun.  The old adage is the smaller the leaf, the more sun a Rhododendron can tolerate.  Having said that, however, I do like to plant my Rhododendrons in locations where they get some shade during the hottest part of the day during the summer.

R. 'Mary Fleming''Mary Fleming' has pale yellow flowers tinged with pink and the combination blends well with other flowers.  I looked up the parentage of this hybrid, and it's a cross between two nice lepidote species, R. racemosum and R. keiskei.  What the breeder (Nearing) did was to cross these two species to create a plant that became one of the parents of R. 'Mary Fleming' and then he crossed this hybrid plant back to R. keiskei in what is called a backcross.  Presumably, the pale yellow colour of R. 'Mary Fleming' comes from the keiskei genes while the soft pink comes from racemosum, as does the free flowering habit.  The parent species are also nice plants for a small garden.  I grow both, with R. keiskei in a container and R. racemosum in the ground.  Neither of the parents is in bloom just yet, although flower bud colour is showing.  With a little luck on timing, R. keiskei may be in bloom for an up-coming flower show and if it is, I will enter it into the show.  Being small, it won't draw the "oohs and ahs" of some of the big-flowered Rhododendrons, but it's so sweet, it deserves being shown.