ORANGE GIBRALTAR AZALEA
Sunset zones: 3-9,14-17.
USDA zones: 5-8.
Heat zones: 8-5.
Height: 5 feet (1.5 m).
Width: 5 feet (1.5 m).
Ball-shaped trusses carry 10-12 flowers. The burgundy-red buds open to funnel-shaped, frilly, fragrant, orange red flowers that slowly turn tangerine-orange hues, with distinct yellow flash.
Deciduous, medium-sized, green leaves.
Partial to full sun.
Moist, well-drained, humus rich, acidic soil.
In early spring before the shrub flowers, use a complete organic fertilizer (using cottonseed meal with no lime in the recipe). Top dress with compost in the fall.
Sow seed in early spring.
Semi-ripe cuttings in late summer to autumn.
Layer in fall.
Graft in late winter or late summer.
Prune out dead twigs and stems in the summer when it is easier to find the deadwood. For good winter bare structure when the branches are leafless, do not prune for overall size reduction. Instead use thinning cuts, take out crossed branches, and open up crowded branches. You can also prune the shrub to become a deciduous hedge.
Pests and Diseases:
Resistant to powdery mildew.
Rainy Side Notes
I haven't grown this rhododendron, but admired it at the Olympic College campus when it came into bloom. I really appreciated the burgundy-red buds mingling with the opened tangerine-orange flowers with a distinct yellow flash. It gives an agreeable three-tone affect that you can see in the bottom photograph below. When the flowers first open, the petals are a darker hint of red. As they mature, the flowers turn a bright orange you see in the photo to the right.
One of the Knap Hill hybrids from England, Rhododendron 'Gibraltar' may have our Northwest native R. occidentale in its lineage. Although we don't have to worry about heat in our maritime climate, this azalea can withstand hot weather in other regions.
Be wise. Plant your shrubs where they can reach full size potential so you only have to do minimal pruning. If it grows too big, the rhododendrons compact root systems make them easy shrubs to transplant.
Photographed at Olympic College, Bremerton campus.