North American natives. Elegant flowering evergreen shrubs related to rhododendron, with somewhat similar showy flower clusters. Notable difference is that each long flower stalk bears a small bud resembling a fluted turban; the buds open to chalice-shaped blooms with ten starlike points. Plants share rhododendron’s need for moist atmosphere and moist, acid, humus-rich soil.
Native to eastern North America. Slow growing to 6–8 ft. or taller, with equal spread. Glossy, leathery, oval leaves are 3–5 in. long, dark green on upper surface, yellowish green beneath. Blooms in late spring, bearing clusters to 5 in. across. Flowers are typically 1 in. wide, light pink or white opening from darker pink buds—but blossoms often have subtly different color in their throats and may have contrasting stamens.
Hardy well below 0°F/–18°C. Partial shade. Has proved difficult to grow in the ground in Zones 16 and 17; seems to do better in containers there. In Zones 2 and 3, give plants protection from winter sun and winds, which could cause dehydration.Kalmia polifolia microphylla
Native from Alaska to Northern California. Grows to 1 ft. high and 8 in. wide, with spreading branches and erect branchlets. Small leaves are dark green above, whitish beneath. Rounded clusters of 1/2-in., rose to purple flowers bloom in summer. Partial shade, or full sun where summers are cool.
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Native to northern Europe and Greenland. This mat-forming plant creeps by runners, with flowering stem...