The Rhododendron minus
December 4, 1788
On this day, Andre Michaux made his way from Georgia into South Carolina by crossing the Tugalo River.
In his journal, Michaux wrote:
"At dawn, I went to look at the banks of the river, and I recognized the yellow root, [a new species of rhododendron], mountain laurel, hydrangea, [and] hemlock spruce. . . ."
Now Harvard's Charles Sprague Sargent remarked on the significance of this moment because it was the first time that Michaux laid eyes on the Rhododendron minus. Rhododendron grows naturally in the South from North Carolina to Alabama.
With its soil and climate, Rhododendrons are perfectly suited to grow in South Carolina.
The blossoms of rhododendrons have a wide color range from white to deep purple and blue. A versatile plant, Rhododendrons can be planted as specimens or even as hedges in gardens or natural settings.
If you have oak or pine trees on your property, Rhododendrons are ideal for underplanting due to the filtered light from the tree canopy, the soil pH, and natural mulch. As the mulch breaks down, the organic matter provides the rhododendron with the perfect mix of nutrients. Finally, Rhododendrons need well-drained soil, and you should consider taking advantage of that fact by planting them on a slope.