Barbatum Rhododendron Rhododendron barbatum

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
bearded rhododendron


The Rhododendron barbatum, commonly known as the Barbatum rhododendron, is a visually striking plant characterized by its large, leathery, dark green leaves that exhibit a matte finish on the top surface and a lighter, somewhat fuzzy underside. This texture difference is particularly pronounced due to the dense coating of hair-like structures known simply as hairs or bristles, which can also be seen along the stems giving them a somewhat rough appearance. The Barbatum rhododendron blooms with large, bell-shaped flowers that can vary in color from deep crimson to pinkish red, creating a vibrant display against the backdrop of its dark foliage. These flowers are often arranged in clusters at the ends of the branches, making the flowering event a dramatic spectacle. The floral clusters are further accentuated by the prominent calyx at the base of each bloom, adding to the plant's ornate look. Another notable feature is the presence of prominent stamens, which protrude from the flower, giving them a distinctive whiskery appearance that adds to the visual interest of the plant. The combination of the striking flowers, the bristled stems, and the lush foliage creates a lush and exotic look that makes the Barbatum rhododendron a prized specimen in any plant collection or garden landscape where it is showcased.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Bearded Rhododendron

    • Common names

      Rhododendron barbatum, Rhododendron cinnabarinum var. barbatum.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Rhododendron barbatum, commonly referred to as Rhododendron, is toxic to humans if ingested. The plant contains a class of compounds known as grayanotoxins, which can affect the sodium channels in cell membranes. Symptoms of Rhododendron poisoning can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, weakness, lethargy, low blood pressure, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, and cardiac problems. Severe cases may result in coma or death if not treated promptly.

    • To pets

      Rhododendron, which is Rhododendron barbatum, possesses toxic properties that can affect pets if they ingest any part of the plant. The toxicity is due to grayanotoxins, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, salivation, weakness, ataxia (lack of muscle control), cardiac failure, and potentially death in severe cases. It is vital for pet owners to prevent access to Rhododendron and to seek veterinary care immediately if their pet has consumed any portion of the plant.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      6-20 feet (1.8-6 meters)

    • Spread

      6-10 feet (1.8-3 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Landscape Aesthetics: Rhododendron barbatum, commonly known as the Bearded Rhododendron, is valued for its vibrant blooms that enhance garden aesthetics.
    • Habitat Support: It provides shelter and nesting sites for various bird species, as well as supporting local biodiversity.
    • Pollinator Attraction: The flowers attract bees and butterflies, contributing to pollination of surrounding plants.
    • Soil Erosion Control: This plant can help stabilize soil and prevent erosion on slopes due to its root system.
    • Educational Interest: Rhododendron barbatum can be used in educational settings to teach botany and horticulture.
    • Symbolic Use: In some cultures, rhododendrons may hold symbolic meaning or be used in traditional ceremonies.
    • Seasonal Interest: The plant's flowers provide seasonal interest in landscapes, particularly in the spring when they bloom.
    • Privacy Screens: Due to its size and density, it can be used to create natural privacy screens in gardens.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Antimicrobial: Rhododendron barbatum, commonly known as Wooly Rhododendron, is believed to possess antimicrobial properties, which may help in inhibiting the growth of certain bacteria and fungi.
    • Anti-inflammatory: The plant has been traditionally used to reduce inflammation, which can help in the treatment of conditions such as arthritis.
    • Analgesic: There is some traditional use of Wooly Rhododendron for its pain-relieving effects.
    • Cardiotonic: Some sources suggest that Rhododendron barbatum may have a strengthening effect on the heart, but this use is not widely recognized or supported by modern research.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Rhododendron wood is sometimes used in the crafting of household items such as bowls and spoons due to its density and fine grain.
    • The leaves of the Rhododendron can be used to create a natural dye for fabric, yielding colors ranging from yellow to brown depending on the mordant used.
    • Rhododendron flowers can be processed into eco-friendly insect repellants, capitalizing on their natural aromatic chemicals that are disliked by insects.
    • Beekeepers sometimes place hives near Rhododendron plants for the production of rhododendron honey, although it can have toxic properties if the plant contains certain toxins.
    • The flowers are at times used in cultural festivals or religious ceremonies as decorations or offerings, due to their large, showy blooms.
    • Gardeners might use Rhododendrons as companion plants to provide shade and shelter for more delicate understory species due to their thick foliage.
    • The fibrous roots of Rhododendron plants can help stabilize soil on slopes or banks, thus serving a practical landscaping purpose in preventing erosion.
    • The plant is also known for its use in bonsai culture, where enthusiasts cultivate Rhododendrons as miniature trees through careful pruning and training.
    • Fallen Rhododendron petals can be collected and pressed for use in crafts, like creating natural artworks or handmade paper embellishments.
    • Photographers and artists often use the vibrant Rhododendron blooms as subjects in their work due to the plant’s aesthetic appeal and striking colors.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Rhododendron is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Rhododendron is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Warning: Rhododendrons, including Rhododendron barbatum (commonly known as the Himalayan Rhododendron), often signify caution due to their toxic nature. Many species of rhododendron contain grayanotoxins, which can be harmful if ingested.
    • Beauty and elegance: The Himalayan Rhododendron, with its stunning flowers, is frequently associated with natural beauty and splendor, reflecting its impressive appearance in the wild.
    • Survival: Thriving in challenging mountainous environments, the Himalayan Rhododendron symbolizes the ability to endure and adapt in harsh conditions.
    • Abundance: The dense clusters of flowers produced by this plant can signify prosperity and the coming together of various blessings.
    • Rejuvenation: As a plant that blooms vibrantly every year, it represents new beginnings and the rejuvenation of life.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring-early summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Rhododendron barbatum, commonly known as Bearded Rhododendron, should be watered deeply and thoroughly, ensuring that the soil becomes moist but not waterlogged. It's recommended to provide around 1 gallon of water per week for a young plant, adjusting for rainfall. During hot spells or periods of drought, you may need to water twice a week, while in cooler, wetter conditions, watering can be reduced. Overhead watering should be avoided to prevent disease; instead, water at the base of the plant. The goal is to maintain a consistently moist soil without it becoming soggy, as the Bearded Rhododendron does not tolerate dry soil well.

  • sunLight

    Bearded Rhododendron prefers partial shade with some morning sun or light dappled shade throughout the day. Avoid direct hot summer sunlight as it can scorch the leaves. The ideal spot would be under the high canopy of deciduous trees, where it receives filtered sunlight. It's important not to place it in deep shade, as this can lead to fewer blooms and leggy growth.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Bearded Rhododendron thrives in a temperate climate and prefers temperatures ranging between 40°F and 85°F. It can survive minimum temperatures of 10°F, but prolonged exposure to temperatures below freezing can be damaging. Ideal growing conditions are cool to moderate temperatures with protection from harsh winter winds and extreme heat. This will encourage healthy growth and flowering.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune Bearded Rhododendrons to maintain shape, remove dead or diseased wood, and encourage bushy growth. The best time to prune is shortly after the flowering period, usually in the spring, to ensure that next season's bud set is not disturbed. Lightly trim back the growth of the branches to a point just above where you see new growth forming. Note that heavy pruning is seldom necessary and should be done infrequently.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    The best soil mix for Rhododendron, commonly known as Rhododendron, is well-draining with high organic matter. A mix of pine bark, peat moss, and perlite or coarse sand is ideal. The desired soil pH should be slightly acidic, ranging from 4.5 to 6.0.

  • plantRepotting

    Rhododendrons, including Rhododendron barbatum, generally don't require frequent repotting and can be repotted every 2 to 3 years or when the plant has outgrown its current container.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Rhododendron barbatum thrives in moderate to high humidity levels, ideally around 50-60%, but they can tolerate a range as long as the soil moisture and air circulation are well-managed.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Keep in acidic soil, bright, indirect light, and high humidity.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in partial shade, acidic soil, and protect from strong winds.

    • Hardiness zone

      7-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Rhododendron barbatum, commonly known as the Barbatum Rhododendron, begins its life as a seed, which germinates in moist, well-drained, and acidic soil conditions, often in partial shade. Upon germination, the plant develops a root system and a shoot that pushes through the soil surface, entering the seedling stage. As it grows, it develops leaves and a sturdy stem, entering the juvenile phase, during which it matures but does not yet flower. When it reaches maturity, which can take several years, it enters the adult stage and produces characteristic flowers that are usually red or pink, attracting pollinators. Following pollination, the flowers develop into seed capsules containing numerous tiny seeds, which are dispersed by wind or gravity. The plant's life cycle can continue for many years, as Rhododendrons are perennial shrubs, capable of living and reproducing for decades under suitable conditions.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-early summer

    • The most popular method of propagation for Rhododendron barbatum, commonly known as the bearded rhododendron, is by semi-hardwood cuttings. This is typically done during the late summer after flowering, as the new growth begins to mature and harden slightly. To propagate by cuttings, a 4 to 6-inch piece of stem is selected, ideally with several sets of leaves. The lower leaves are removed, and the cut end is dipped in a rooting hormone to encourage root development. The cutting is then placed in a potting mixture of peat and perlite and kept under high humidity and indirect light. It takes several weeks for the cutting to root, after which it can be transplanted into individual pots and slowly acclimatized to less humid conditions before planting out in the garden.