Bulletproof Rhododendrons: Rhodies for Sea Coast Wind and Other Tough Conditions

Rhododendrons are tough performers in our Pacific Northwest climate, and have become a standby for landscapers looking for a plant that’s sure to thrive.

But not all Rhodies are created equal; some are more suited to tough conditions than others, as evidenced by the horrible-looking Rhodies in so many local parking lots. Finding the right variety for the spot you have is key.

Recently, I asked Don Wallace of Singing Tree Gardens, our local Rhododendron expert, for suggestions of “bulletproof” Rhododendrons that I could use in tough spots where other plants might not thrive – like in windy areas, or in poor soils. He came up with a great list of tougher-than-usual Rhodies, which I have found so useful I wanted to share it with you here.

Small Tough Rhododendrons:

Rhododendron 'Noyo Dream' 4'Aloha 2-3’, white with pink

Dora Amateis 2-3’, white

Noyo Brave 2-3’, bright pink, adorable foliage

Noyo Dream 2-3’, superbright pink with gorgeous foliage, early bloomer

Scarlet Wonder 3’ red, lovely habit

Winsome 2-3’, bright pink

Larger Tough Rhododendrons:

Anah Kruschke 8-10’, purple – VERY tough

Anna Rose Whitney 5-7’, pink with white

Bibiani 6-8’, red, great for privacy screens

Rhododendron 'Black Sport' Black Sport 5-6’, maroon, fast-growing for privacy screens

Dame Nellie Melba 6-8’, pink/ white, great for privacy screen

Hallelujah 4-5’, hot pink

Jean Marie de Montague 5-6’, red

Mrs. T.H. Lowinski 5-6’, white with rusty throat

Peter Alan 5’ dark purple that goes nicely with Nancy Evans (Nancy’s less tough, so put Nancy in a gentler position) Rhododendron 'Van Ves Sensation'

Pink Walloper 5-6’ tall, pink

Royal Purple 5-6’, purple with yellow-orange flare

Scintillation 4-5’, pink

Solidarity 4-5’, pink

Van Nes Sensation 6-8’, very pretty lilac-white flowers, great screen, fragrant

Rhododendron Yaku Hybrid I’ve also found Yaku hybrid Rhododendrons exceptionally good at tolerating windy sites, even salty wind.

I think that’s because the white idumentum (hairy coating) that covers the new growth helps to protect the Rhody until it hardens off.

I love how the Yaku hybrids look like they’ve been snowed on in spring…

Looking for other plants for tough conditions? Check out my lists of plants that grow well on the seacoast for other ideas of plants that will take wind and other unfriendly conditions.

Shade-Loving Plants for the Sea Coast

Screens and Hedges to Block Wind on the Sea Coast

Ground Cover Plants for the Sea Coast

Perennial Flowers for the Sea Coast


3 responses to “Bulletproof Rhododendrons: Rhodies for Sea Coast Wind and Other Tough Conditions”

  1. My climate up here in far Northern Cali is actually brilliant for Rhodies, and we’re kind of known for them, even though only a few varieties are actually native here. I love the gorgeous varieties, but it’s depressing to see so many horrible, icky-looking ones in parking lots and such.

  2. I live in Missouri. My parents have some in town and I transplanted some last year to my house in the country. This last winter was tough on them -18 below etc. they are brown on top and have green toward bottom. Will they come out of it or do I trim them have never had them before and not sure how to take care of.