Rhododendron Polar Bear Rhododendron (Polar Bear Group) 'Polar Bear'

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


The Rhododendron 'Polar Bear' is a plant that features lush, evergreen foliage that forms a dense backdrop for its spectacular floral display. The leaves are a deep, glossy green and are elliptical with a leathery texture, offering year-round visual interest. Come bloom time, this Rhododendron dazzles with large clusters of trumpet-shaped flowers. These blossoms are typically pure white, sometimes featuring a slight yellowish tinge near the throat, which adds to their charm. The flowers exude a striking contrast against the dark foliage and are known for their delightful fragrance that can fill the surrounding air. Each blossom is composed of five petals that come together to create a visual semblance of a pristine blanket resembling snow. The prominent stamens add a subtle grace to the flower structure, further enhancing the overall appeal of 'Polar Bear.' The plant has a bushy, well-branched habit, which supports the substantial floral clusters and gives the shrub an appealing form that catches the eye even when not in bloom.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Synonyms

      Polar Bear Rhododendron, White Rhododendron

    • Common names

      Rhododendron 'Polar Bear'

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      The Rhododendron is a species known to be toxic to humans if ingested. All parts of the Rhododendron, including leaves, flowers, and nectar, contain toxic compounds called grayanotoxins. These toxins can interfere with normal skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle, and nerve function. When ingested, symptoms of Rhododendron poisoning can include vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, weakness, coma, hypotension, CNS depression, cardiovascular collapse, and potentially death. It is important to avoid consuming any parts of this plant.

    • To pets

      Rhododendron is also toxic to pets, including dogs and cats. In pets, ingestion of any part of the Rhododendron plant can lead to severe symptoms due to the presence of grayanotoxins. Symptoms of Rhododendron poisoning in pets can include vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, weakness, incoordination, hypotension, seizures, and potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias. It is crucial to prevent pets from ingesting any part of this plant and to seek veterinary care immediately if ingestion is suspected.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      6-8 feet (1.8-2.4 meters)

    • Spread

      6-8 feet (1.8-2.4 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ornamental Value: Rhododendron 'Polar Bear' is known for its large, showy white flowers that can add visual interest to gardens.
    • Landscape Use: It can be used as a specimen plant, in mass plantings, or as part of a mixed shrub border for landscape enhancement.
    • Scented Flowers: The flowers of 'Polar Bear' are fragrant, contributing a pleasant aroma to the garden atmosphere.
    • Attracts Wildlife: The blooms can attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, promoting biodiversity.
    • Seasonal Interest: With its flowering period in the spring, it provides seasonal interest after a long winter.
    • Durable: Rhododendron 'Polar Bear' is a hardy plant that can handle cold temperatures, making it suitable for a variety of climates.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Rhododendrons can be used as a natural dye for fabrics, giving them a range of colors from soft yellows to pinks, depending on the part of the plant used and the mordant applied.
    • The wood of some rhododendron species is hard and can be used for crafting small objects such as walking sticks, wooden utensils, or intricate carvings.
    • Rhododendron leaves are sometimes used in traditional practices to create smoke during rituals and ceremonies due to their aromatic properties.
    • Dried rhododendron petals can be incorporated into potpourri mixes to add a floral scent and color to a room.
    • Fresh rhododendron Blossoms can be used as edible decorations for cakes and pastries, provided the species is non-toxic and confirmed safe for consumption.
    • Some cultures use rhododendron plants in landscaping to create privacy hedges or noise barriers because of their dense foliage.
    • Pressed rhododendron flowers can be used in botanical art and crafts, such as creating bookmarks or decorating homemade greeting cards.
    • Rhododendron flowers can be a natural indicator of pH in soil; some species display color changes in their flowers depending on the acidity or alkalinity of the soil they grow in.
    • In floral arrangements, rhododendron branches add structure and volume, while their blossoms provide a striking aesthetic appeal.
    • The tannins from rhododendron leaves can occasionally be used in the tanning process to cure leather, imparting a unique finish to the material.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    Rhododendron is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    Rhododendron is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Beware: The Rhododendron plant is known to be toxic, and traditionally, it is often a symbol of caution or danger.
    • Warning: Similarly, due to its poisonous properties, it can represent a warning to be heedful of potential threats.
    • Elegance and Wealth: The flowers of the Rhododendron are often large and showy, symbolizing elegance and wealth.
    • Survival: Rhododendrons are hardy plants that can survive in challenging conditions, making them a symbol of endurance and the ability to overcome obstacles.
    • Abundance: The full, abundant blooms of the Rhododendron can represent an overflow of beauty or prosperity.

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

    Rhododendrons, including the 'Polar Bear' variety, should be watered deeply to ensure the moisture reaches the root zone. During active growth in spring and summer, watering once a week with one to two gallons per plant is usually sufficient. Increase the frequency to twice a week during hot or dry weather, but reduce watering in the fall and winter to avoid waterlogging. Always allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again. Proper mulching can help retain soil moisture and reduce the need to water frequently.

  • sunLight

    Rhododendron 'Polar Bear' prefers locations with partial shade or filtered light. Direct morning sun is acceptable, but the plant should be protected from harsh afternoon rays, which can scorch the leaves. An ideal spot would provide bright, indirect light for most of the day, mimicking the dappled sunlight of its natural woodland habitat.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Rhododendron 'Polar Bear' thrives in a temperature range of 60°F to 70°F during the day and slightly cooler at night. It can tolerate minimum temperatures down to about 20°F but should be protected from frost to prevent damage. Avoid exposing the plant to temperatures above 80°F, as heat stress can affect growth and blooming.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune the Rhododendron 'Polar Bear' in late winter or early spring before new growth begins to maintain shape and encourage bushiness. Deadheading spent flowers right after they bloom can stimulate further flowering and prevent seed formation, which can drain the plant's resources. Remove dead or diseased branches whenever noticed to keep the plant healthy.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Rhododendrons require well-draining, acidic soil with a pH between 4.5 to 6.0. A good mix is equal parts of peat moss, pine bark, and perlite. Ensure the soil is kept moist but not soggy for optimal health of the 'Polar Bear'.

  • plantRepotting

    'Polar Bear' rhododendrons typically need repotting every 2 to 3 years or when the plant outgrows its current container. Repot in the spring or early fall, before or after the blooming period.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Rhododendrons, including 'Polar Bear', thrive in high humidity environments. Ideal humidity levels are between 40% to 60%. Mist leaves regularly if indoor air is dry, but avoid overwatering.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place in bright, indirect light and monitor soil moisture.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in partial shade, shelter from strong winds, acidic soil.

    • Hardiness zone

      5-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    A Rhododendron 'Polar Bear' starts its life as a seed, which, when sown in well-draining acidic soil and given the right conditions of moisture and temperature, will germinate. The seedling stage follows, characterized by the emergence of the first leaves as the plant establishes a root system. As it enters the vegetative stage, the Rhododendron 'Polar Bear' develops larger leaves and begins to form a woody stem, with proper care it will grow and mature over several years. The flowering stage is marked by the production of large, fragrant white flowers that bloom primarily in late spring to early summer, attracting pollinators and occasionally setting seed after the blooms naturally fade. Following the flowering stage, in the absence of pruning, the plant may enter a period of dormancy during harsh winters, conserving its energy before reemerging in the spring. Through proper care and favorable conditions, Rhododendron 'Polar Bear' can live for many decades, continuously growing, flowering, and undergoing seasonal cycles.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • The Rhododendron 'Polar Bear', a variety known for its fragrant white flowers, is commonly propagated by semi-hardwood cuttings. This propagation method is typically performed during the late summer, as this is when the new growth has begun to mature and harden slightly, making it ideal for rooting. Semi-hardwood cuttings are taken from the current season's growth. These cuttings should be about 4 to 6 inches long and include several leaf nodes. The lower leaves are removed, and the cut end is dipped in a rooting hormone to encourage root development. Then, the prepared cutting is placed in a well-draining potting mix, ensuring that at least one or two leaf nodes are buried. The cutting requires a humid environment to root successfully, which can be maintained by covering the pot with a plastic bag or placing it in a propagator. It's essential to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, and in a few weeks to months, the cutting should develop roots and can be transferred to a larger pot or garden location.