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Rhododendron: State Flower of Washington Plus FAQs

My grandpa loved gardening. I learned much from him. To this day I enjoy puttering around in our garden, growing plants for beauty and food.

Rhododendron Macrophyllum

There are over 900 species of rhododendrons and azaleas that come from the same genus. This Rhododendron macrophyllum is also commonly called the Coast, Pacific, or even the Big Leaf Rhododendron, which is descriptively accurate since the leaves are large and this evergreen rhododendron is along the Pacific Coast of the United States on up to Canada.

It is this particular rhododendron, the Rhododendron macrophyllum, that is the State Flower of Washington. It typically blooms in the late Springtime of the year.

Rhododendron macrophyllum

Rhododendron macrophyllum

Rhododendrons in Golden Gate Park

We were captivated by the beauty of rhododendrons in full bloom in Golden Gate Park one Spring. Golden Gate Park is located in San Francisco, California, and is a fabulous place to spend hours or even days.

My hubby and I have spent some time in that glorious city park on two different vacations, starting and ending in San Francisco before our return trip to Houston. If San Francisco is on our radar for a future vacation, I would appreciate spending even more time in that distinctive and beautiful park, especially if these glorious shrubs happened to be in bloom.

My husband and I stood in awe of their display of beauty. The Rhododendron garden was magnificent, and those bushes towered over us! They grandly stood and displayed their gorgeous blossoms under the canopy of some neighboring pine trees. I am not sure what specific type of rhododendrons those happened to be. They undoubtedly had labels, but that was long before I ever thought of writing articles on the web.

We love our azalea bushes when they are blooming, and we thought that these larger rhododendron shrubs looked like azaleas on steroids!

Rhododendron macrophyllum

Rhododendron macrophyllum

Growing Conditions and Climate

Like azaleas, most rhododendrons typically have shallow roots, like acidic soil, and enjoy some dappled shade for ideal growing conditions.

You can see by the range map below that their ideal growing climate is the far northwestern edges of our country, including northern California, Oregon, parts of Washington, and they even stray as far north as in bits of southern British Columbia, Canada.

If we had the correct climate and growing conditions here in Houston, I would surely wish to add these beauties to our garden when planning a landscape design. At least we have their cousins, the azaleas, to make us happy!

Rhododendron macrophyllum range map

Rhododendron macrophyllum range map

Exploring Rhododendron

Keeping Rhododendrons in Shape

If you wish to know how to keep rhododendrons groomed, the video below explains it quite nicely. If you grow them in your garden, you would want them to be compact and tidy in appearance. If you have numerous plants, it takes some effort, but dedicated gardeners usually love tending their plants.

Grooming Rhododendrons

Rhododendron Questions

Rhododendrons in the Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park

To see the beautiful Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park located in Great River, New York, on Long Island, you will certainly enjoy the video below. I would love to visit there someday when the rhododendrons are in bloom.

When traveling, I always enjoy visiting gardens to see the various types of plants grown in that region of the country. Some specialize in certain types of plants, and others are diverse in what grows there.

Sometimes we have made discoveries by seeing signs along the road. We got to see the Alfred B. Maclay State Gardens in Tallahassee, Florida, because of that fact. At other times when first planning a trip, a particular garden was on the itinerary. Such was the case when visiting Bellingrath Gardens in Alabama.

Rhododendrons in The Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park

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Visiting Gardens


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 28, 2019:

Hi Dale,

It is interesting that you describe your wife as a part bee...and yet I distinctly remember you mentioning her brown thumb. Perhaps she just enjoys visiting other people's gardens, smelling the roses so-to-speak. (Smile)

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on May 28, 2019:

This is another hub for my wife. She is drawn to flowers, flower shows, gardens with flowers, etc. like she is part bee. Hmm, just thinking about it, she MAY be part bee. I will research and report back.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 22, 2019:

Hi Aurelio,

Rhododendrons also grow beautifully there! We have our azaleas in our part of the country that seems to thrive.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on May 22, 2019:

I used to live in Seattle but had no idea that this bloom was a state flower. Probably explains in part why I saw rhododendrons everywhere there.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 19, 2019:

Hi Nithya,

It truly was a treat to see the rhododendrons in full bloom. We have many azaleas planted around our home in Houston that bloom several times a year. Most of them have just finished blooming for this season. Both types of plants are beauties, particularly when in bloom.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on April 19, 2019:

Rhododendrons are beautiful flowers. It must have been a visual treat to see these flowers in full bloom. The Azaleas are beautiful and glorious when they are in full bloom. Thank you for sharing information about the rhododendrons, enjoyed reading.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 24, 2018:

Hi Ethel,

I don't know about any problems with the rhododendrons other than keeping them trimmed and fertilized. They certainly are beauties!

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on August 23, 2018:

Like all flowers they are beutiful though in this case can be problematic I know.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 30, 2018:

Hi Patricia,

Nice that you got to enjoy the rhododendrons when you were a child. If we could grow them here in Houston I would definitely have worked them into our landscape over the years. Love, hugs and blessings to you!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on June 30, 2018:

Adore these. My Momma grew these when I was a young girl and they were magnificent. I have never had them in my yard but who knows? One may wind up there one day. Once again Angels are on the and hugs and blessings, Peggy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 07, 2017:

Hi Roberta,

Hope you get to see those high elevations in the Smoky Mountains someday and see the rhododendrons in person. Appreciate your comment.

RTalloni on November 06, 2017:

Thanks for this look at your rhododendron sightings. :) One day I want to see the Smoky's high elevation Catawba up close and in person as well as the Washington State flower.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 27, 2017:

Hi Larry,

That was a sad way to lose a prized rhododendron! Hopefully that was a wake up call for your Uncle John.

Larry W Fish from Raleigh on October 26, 2017:

Rhododendrons are so beautiful. We had many of them around when I grew up as a child in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. In my last article I wrote about my Uncle John when he was drunk and backed over my Mom's prize rhododendron. Great article, Peggy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 12, 2017:

Hi Athlyn,

The rhododendrons certainly are showy when in bloom. You were fortunate to have had them growing in your area in British Columbia.

Athlyn Green from West Kootenays on September 11, 2017:

I love Rhodies and we were fortunate enough to have the Pacific Giants up in B.C. These were huge and would be full of bloom. And the colors!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 20, 2017:

Hi Rajan,

Rhododendrons do not grow in our climate either but azaleas do. I also admire other plants that do not grow here. At least we can all admire them in photos!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 20, 2017:

The Rhododendron blooms are a beauty to behold. Unfortunately our climate is unsuitable for its growth so I can only view it in pictures.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 14, 2016:

Hi Patricia,

So glad that this was informative and that it taught you something about rhododendrons that you did not previously know. Appreciate your comment. :)

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on November 14, 2016:

Gorgeous....the videos and photos added so much to this, Peggy. It is indeed a lovely plant and I learned much that I did not know about them.

Angels once again winging their way to you ps

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 18, 2016:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

It is a shame that these beautiful shrubs are invasive in some areas. I did not realize that. Like all plants, if grown in the region from where they originated all is usually well.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 18, 2016:

Hi Linda,

So nice to be able to enjoy rhododendrons where you live. Southern British Columbia is so pretty from what I got to see many years ago.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 16, 2016:

Beautiful flowers and hard to imagine them being an invasive and thus disdained species somewhere. I would love to have some purple ones in my yard! Stunning!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 16, 2016:

Hi Jackie,

Nice that they grow in so many places. They would be beautiful with a mountain as backdrop! Thanks for the share.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 16, 2016:

Hi BlossomSB,

I am not sure where they originated but they are listed as alpine native plants in most parts of the world. They must have been beautiful when you visited Scotland! Like you, we enjoy our azaleas.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on April 14, 2016:

I love rhododendrons. I'm enjoying their appearance in southern British Columbia at the moment. Thank you for sharing the information and the lovely photos.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on April 13, 2016:

They are also so beautiful in the eastern Virginia states. State flower of West Virginia I believe. I so love them with all that green backing and so lush along the mountains you can spot them miles away! Great pick for an article.


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 13, 2016:

Hi Blond Logic,

That seems to happen often when plants that do well in one part of the world are exported to another place where they then become invasive. It is too bad when that occurs.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on April 13, 2016:

I wonder where they originated? I've seen them in so many places in the world and especially remember a visit to the Island of Skye in Scotland when the rhododendrons were out; it was so beautiful. Our first home had a big garden with some lovely ones, but now I have a very small garden I have azaleas and they give a pretty show, too. Enjoyed the reminder.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on April 13, 2016:

The first ones I saw (and noticed) were in Washington. I was very impressed by them. My husband, scoffed at them because they are a very invasive plant in parts of the UK where he is from.

They are still a beautiful plant.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 13, 2016:

Hello emge,

So glad you found this article informative.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 13, 2016:

Hello Thelma,

Nice that you get to enjoy rhododendrons in the Blue Ridge mountains also. Enjoy their spring bloom. Our azaleas have pretty much finished blooming or are at the tail end of the season for now.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on April 13, 2016:

Nice post Peggy with lots of information

Thelma Raker Coffone from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on April 13, 2016:

Nice article about one of my favorite plants. Mine are getting ready to bloom here in the Blue Ridge mountains. Lovely!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 13, 2016:

Hi Bill,

Nice to know from you just how hardy rhododendrons truly are. :) At least we have our azaleas!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 13, 2016:

Hi Frank,

So you live in the nutmeg state. Interesting! I would guess that you have some wonderful flowering plants where you live.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 13, 2016:

I would be willing to bet I have never lived in a home in Washington where there wasn't one of these beautiful plants. They are a sure sign of spring and I would miss them living somewhere else....and for those thinking of getting one, they are practically impossible to kill. I'm proof of that. :)

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on April 13, 2016:

Springtime you learn a great deal from hubbers like you.. what a fantastic state flower.. we're the nutmeg state..:( but her we all can't have wonderful flowers...thank you for sharing all this information.. bless you Peggy :)

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