arhs Yachts International
arhs Yachts International

Rhododendron Westons Innocence

By Mary Helleiner

We acquired the deciduous azalea Weston’s Innocence as a small plant from the Society’s order in 2001. The following year it began blooming with pretty, heavily scented white flowers. Unfortunately it did not do much growing. A year or so later it put up one very long shoot, giving it a giraffe-like appearance, but continuing to bloom. But at last, in 2006, it has decided to behave and has several growths, making it a more or less shapely bush. Fertilizer may be the key.

The flowers are attractive, but there are two other features that make this azalea very much worth growing. One is the scent; the other is the bloom date. Every year from 2002 it has opened its flowers between July 2 and July 9, when the rhodos are finished, and the flowers last well, so it is in bloom for some time.

According to the American Rhododendron Society, this azalea is a hybrid between two eastern North American species, arborescens and viscosum. Both are late bloomers and both are scented. The ARS rates Weston’s Innocence as hardy to -32˚C. It has never been below -23˚C in our garden in recent years (thank goodness) so we have not tested it. However the ARS 10 year height of three feet seems inaccurate; our plant is already five feet tall and shows no signs of stopping. One of its parents, R. viscosum, is described as a tall shrub or small tree.

If you are looking for something to extend the rhodo bloom season, I can highly recommend Weston’s Innocence.