With over 1,000 species, rhododendrons grow from tropical to very cold environments. Thus, no matter where you live, there's bound to be a rhododendron for you. Start narrowing down your choices according to your hardiness zone, then by the micro-climate where you'll be planting the rhododendron. Is it going to live in full sun? In shade? Do you need the plant to provide early blooms? These kinds of questions will guide you in your choices. When you plant your rhododendron, give it well-drained, acidic soil with a pH of about 5.5.
Boule de Neige
If you don't have a lot of sun available, Boule de Neige might be for you. Boule de Neige is a hybrid rhododendron that can bloom even in deep shade. It flowers in white, round clusters, the reason behind its name, which is French for ball of snow. Another plus to Boule de Neige is its hardiness. The plant grows to about 4 feet tall and about 5 feet wide.
Leave it to the Finns to create a hybrid rhododendron that will produce buds that can handle -30 degrees F. Elvira is a very hardy rhododendron that blooms in vivid red. It's diminutive compared to some rhododendrons, only growing to 2 feet tall and up to the same across.
The Balsam is an azalea rhododendron that can serve as ground cover. The plant produces salmon-pink flowers that look something like roses. The leaves are about 2 inches long. Balsam grows 4 feet across.
Cornell pink is a member of Rhododendron mucronulatum, a species native to Asia that grows in elevations up to 5,500 feet. Rhododendron mucronulatum is a deciduous rhododendron known for early blooming. Indeed, Cornell Pink blooms in early spring, even before the leaves are on the plant.
The cultivar English Roseum is one of the rhododendron varieties that gardeners can rely on to perform. It is both heat and cold tolerant, growing up to 10 feet tall and 11 feet wide. It blooms, as the name suggests, in a rosy color.