VRS 2000-01 Seed List

by M.J. Harvey

Explore New Frontiers

The purpose of  this, the third Seed List, is to encourage members to grow new cultivars of Rhododendrons and thus fulfill one of our mandates, which is to explore new frontiers.  As opposed, that is, to just going to the nurseries and purchasing already existing cultivars.  Is it just my imagination or is Victoria the most timid Chapter in terms of experimenting with seeds?

For Non-Keeners

The ARS also puts out a seed list – a very comprehensive one.  Our local list is not designed to replace that.  What the local list is aimed at is the non-keener who cannot bother to send for the ARS list or look it up on the WWW.  It is also, I might add, for people annoyed by the dollar exchange rate.  Our seeds are cheaper!  We even have free seeds this year.  But if you want a really good selection, get the ARS list.

How to Germinate Rhododendron Seeds

Germination is easy.  Almost fill pots with a mixture of 3 parts peat to one part perlite.  Dampen it and flatten the surface with the bottom of a similar pot.  Sprinkle the tiny seeds over the surface and either leave uncovered, or sieve some fine peat, or perlite or sand to just – only just – cover the seed.  I know I’ve advocated sieving the dried leaves of Sphagnum moss over the seeds in the past but it really isn’t essential and I want to get away from cabalistic mysteries.

Cover the pots to maintain humidity.  Any system will do – plastic bags, food wrap or those ‘clamshell’ plastic containers that sandwiches and cakes are sold in.  Keep them in the dark for a couple of weeks (it slows moss growth).  Mist the soil surface with a squirt bottle to keep it moist.


As soon as germination is visible bring the pot into the light but not sunlight since they are delicate.  The best light is a fluorescent tube about 6” above the pots.  This supplies gentle light without heat.  Growth will be slow.  Keep the little seedlings under constant humid conditions for the next few months.


Pricking Out

When the seedlings are 5 – 10 mm high prick them out into larger pots or trays to be about 2 cm apart.  Most people lose them at this stage.  When they are between 5 and 20 mm high the seedlings are easily lost to drying.  Maintain a high humidity by keeping a cover over the plants at all times.  At this stage in their development the leaves are delicate with a thin cuticle.  These juvenile leaves are a different shape from their adult form and often have a red-pigmented underside.  This is adaptation to growth in low light in the undergrowth of forests.  Seedlings with indumented parents will not show any fuzz until the adult leaves are produced.


When the seedlings are about an inch high they start to produce their thicker adult leaves.  At this size the plants may be put outside in dappled shade, uncovered but still not allowed to dry out.  A weak 20:20:20 solution may be used as fertilizer but do not overdo it.  After all this genus evolved to grow in some of the poorest soils in the world.


Free Seeds

This year we are giving away some of  the best indumented, compact hybrid seed away.  These are part of the Joe Harvey programme to find the ideal, compact, free-flowering, front-of-the-border plant with year-round beautiful, weevil-resistant foliage.


Why this uncharacteristic generosity?  Well, the labels dropped off some trusses.  In fact in 2000 there was an epidemic of insecure labels resulting in several crosses being confused.  Of course the female side of the cross is known -  that is the plant the seeds came from.  The problem is the identity of the male (pollen) parent.  Even here there is a known short-list of possibilities derived from the written crossing log.

All the fathers are really good sorts willing to pay maintenance costs by guaranteeing that their progeny will give years of beauty in your garden.  Eventually it will be possible to work out the parentage from the characteristics of the grown seedlings.


Give it a try!  They are all going to be yummy plants and if you get fed up with them just donate them to the dollar table at any stage.  In the following list each truss of Lost Labels seeds has been kept separate.



The existence of the Seed List owes everything to the contributors.  This year they are:


                        Contributors               Donor

            Finnerty Gardens, U. Vic                          FIN

            Hatley Castle gardens                               HAT

            Horticulture Centre of the Pacific               HCP

            Joe Harvey                                               HAR

            John Hawkins                                           HAW

            Karen and Burns Morrison                       MOR

            Dave Mackas                                           MAK

            John Trelawney                                        TRE



        Plant Name                                                Description                                                Donor

Acanthus spinosissimus                         1.5 m spikes of purple and white flowers           HAR   

Acer campbellii                                     Leaves larger than palmatum                             HAT

Acer Griseum                                                   The mahogany bark maple                                FIN

Acer palmatum dissectum                                 Finely cut leaves, weeping                                 HAT

Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’                              Fall leaves scarlet                                              HAT

Acer palmatum “Green Osakazuki”                   Fall leaves yellow                                              HAT

Acer palmatum ssp.palmatum                The very small-leaved form                               HAT

Agapanthus hybrid                                            The hardy, deciduous blue form                        HAR

Allium christophii                                              Spectacular flower-heads, can be dried HAR

Aquilegia formosa, fw Sooke                            Orange flowers (humming bird)             HAR

Arctostaphylos columbiana                               Dwarf, drought-resistant shrub              HAR

Bupleurum fructicescens                                    Low shrub, shiny leaves                                    HCP

Camassia leichtlinii alba                         The tall white camas                                          HAR

Centaurea macrocephala                                   Turk’s cap, drought resistant herb                     HAR

Cornus capitata                                                Chinese, yellow-bracted dogwood                    TRE

Dieraama pendula                                             The graceful fairy wand                         HAR

Dierama pulcherrima                                         Similar to above                                                HAR

Euonymus hamiltonianum ssp sieboldianum        Spindleberry                                                     FIN

Euonymus latifolius                                            Another orange-furited berry                             FIN

Euphorbia “wallichii” (characias group)  Clumping spurge                                               HAR

Genista aetnensis                                              The charming Mt. Etna broom               HCP

Genista tinctoria ‘Royal Gold’               Yellow, low shrubby herb                                 HAR

Ginko biloba                                                     Maidenhair tree                                                FIN

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’         Yellow                                                             HAR

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’                        Orange-brown                                                  HAR

Hoheria glabrata                                               White-flowered NZ bush                                  TRE

Inula racemosa                                     Stiffly upright 2 m racemes, yellow                    HAR

Lysichiton americanum                          Pollinated with L. camtschatcensis                     HAR

Magnolia wilsonii                                              Shrub, hanging white flowers                             TRE

Meconopsis grandis/betoniciforia                      Blue poppy                                                       MOR

Paeonia lutea ludlowii                                        The yellow tree peony                           HAT

Sorbus cashmiriana                                           Pink flowers, white fruit                         TRE

Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’                                      Yellow fruits                                                     FIN

Sorbus megalocarpa                                         White flowers, brown golf-ball fruit                   TRE

Styrax japonica                                     Silverbells, small tree                                         FIN

Yucca filamentosa                                             Needle-and-thread, drought resistant                HAR



Lost Label Seeds – Free Seed



LL1      R. argyrophyllum nankingensis ‘Chinese Silver’              x HP                HAR

LL2                                                                                                   x HP                HAR

LL3                                                                                                   xHP                 HAR


Pollen used to hand pollinate the above trusses includes pachysanthum (possibly LL1), proteoides, tsariense and gymnocarpum.


LL4      R. degronianum ssp heptamerum ‘Enamoto’                              xHP                 HAR

LL5                                                                                                   xHP                 HAR

LL6                                                                                                   xHP                 HAR

LL7                                                                                                   xHP                 HAR

LL8                                                                                                   xHP                 HAR

LL9                                                                                                   xHP                 HAR


Pollen used on the above hand pollinated crosses includes:  roxieanum v. oreonastes, argyrophyllum, ‘Chinese Silver’, insigne, proteoides, wiltonii, yakushimanum ‘Exbury’, and sino-grande.  Also some were selfed.



Rhodendron Species - $2.00 per packet


10        R. arboreum ‘Sir Charles Lemon’ OP                                                                                      FIN

11          calophytum U. Vic  HP                                                                                                       HAW

12          dauricum, Hakodate, Hokkaido  OP                                                                                   MAK

13          degronianum ssp heptamerum  ‘Enamoto’  HP                                                                      HAR

14.         insigne   OP                                                                                                             HAR

15          macabeanum  Dora Kreiss  HP                                                                                            HAW 

16           montroseanum  Norm Todd  HP                                                                                          HAW

17          praevernum  OP                                                                                                                   FIN

18          pseudochrysanthum  OP                                                                                                       FIN

19          schlippenbachii   OP                                                                                                 FIN


Rhododendron hybrids – hand cross-pollinated


20        R. argyrophyllum ssp nankingensis ‘Chinese Silver’ x pseudochrysanthum                                  HAR

21          adenogynum                                                      x pachysanthum                              HAR

22        “ degronianum ssp heptamerum ‘Enamoto              x calophytum                                              HAR

23                                                                                 x gynmocarpum                                          HAR

24                                                                                x macabeanum                                            HAR

25                                                                                 x makinoi                                                    HAR

26                                                                                 x pachysanthum                                          HAR

Rhododendron hybrids continued – hand cross-pollinated                                                  

27        “ degronianum ssp heptamerum ‘Enamoto’             x pseudochrysanthum                                  HAR

28                                                                                 x tsariense                                                  HAR

29        “ degronianum ssp yakushimanum ‘Exbury’             x argyrophyllum “Chinese Silver”            HAR

30                                                                                 x degronianum ssp heptamerum

                                                                                                            ‘Enamoto’                                HAR

31                                                                                 x macabeanum                                            HAR

32                                                                                 x panchysanthum                                        HAR

33                                                                                 x proteoides                                               HAR

34                                                                                 x pseudochrysanthum                                  HAR

35                                                                                 x tsariense                                                  HAR

36          thayeranum                                            x degronianum ‘Enamoto’ (few seeds)            HAR

37                                                                                 x pachysanthum      (few seeds)                   HAR

38          pachysanthum                                                     x gymnocarpum                                          HAR

39                                                                                    x makinoi                                                    HAR

40                                                                                    x proteoides                                               HAR

41                                                                                    x pseudochrysanthum                                  HAR


Details of the origin of the plants used may be obtained from Joe Harvey.  Many are from the Rhodendron Species Foundation.


In addition VRS still has samples of the 1994 Guizhou Rhododendron seed collection of Peter Wharton.  These are important introductions and are becoming famous.  The seeds are kept frozen.


How to Obtain Seeds


1.      In person at a VRS meeting.

  1. By post from:  Joe Harvey, 5061 Sooke Road, Victoria  BC,  V9C 4C3  Please add $1.00 for postage.


Order by number


Price is $2.00 per packet except for the LL which are free.


Payment by cheque or cash.  We have no credit card franchise.  Funds go to running the Chapter.