Rhododendron ‘Elsie Watson’

hybrid rhododendron

  • © Heather Leyrer

Outstanding Qualities

In late April, Rhododendron 'Elsie Watson' produces deep rosy pink flowers that are filled with white and accented by tiny magenta marks at the center. Its petals are ruffled, with a red-violet picotee edge. Rhododendron advisory group member Kristi O'Donnell describes this showy cultivar as "the lead can-can dancer in the chorus line." Bicolor rhododendrons have a contrasting color along the edge of each petal-either a thin "picotee" edge or a gradual shading. This two-tone coloration adds drama and texture to the garden. Bicolors can be used to blend one color scheme into another, but plan carefully: pick one of the two colors on which to build your color scheme. Bicolors are best used as accents - a bed of bicolors would be pretty wild!

Quick Facts

Plant Type: shrub

Foliage Type: evergreen

Plant Height: 5 ft. 0 in. (1.52 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 5 ft. 0 in. (1.52 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 8 ft. 0 in. (2.44 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 8 ft. 0 in. (2.44 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 to 9

Flower Color: pink

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun to light or open shade

Water Requirements: frequent to regular watering

Seasonal Interest: spectacular bicolor flowers of rose and white

Wildlife Associations: bees, hummingbirds

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: cream, silver, gold

Great Color Partners: bronze, dark green, chartreuse

Culture Notes
This rhododendron is easy to grow in the Pacific Northwest. Plant it in rich well-drained or sandy soil in a location with full sun to light or open shade. Rhododendrons are shallow-rooted plants requiring regular watering during dry weather. Faded flowers can be removed to give a cleaner look and new growth can be pinched to help make young plants bushier. Adult root weevils can chew on their leaves, but this is less of a problem on plants that receive more light and regular watering.