Plant name: Coast rhododendron
Botanical name: Rhododendron macrophyllum
Virtues: A native alternative to most garden rhododendrons, which are from Asia. Coast rhododendron is not as showy as them, but it has merit. Particularly interesting for Northwest gardeners, as it is endemic to the Pacific coast and is the state flower of Washington.
Flower: Rose to purple, sometimes white, with rusty inner markings. Bell shaped and held in loose clusters. As showy as garden cultivars.
Foliage: Evergreen, 3 to 6 inches long, narrow.
Habit: Grows 12 to 15 feet tall. Becomes gangly if it is crowded or in the shade, but remains compact when grown in the open.
Season: April to July. Bloom time depends on climate and elevation.
Origin: Pacific Canada, Pacific Northwest to northern California.
Cultivation: Prefers dry acidic soil and part shade to sun. A sunny postition produces the best form. USDA Zones 6–9.