Rhododendron ‘Hino-Red’ is named after a city near Tokyo. It is classified in the Kurume group of evergreen azaleas, which in Northeast Ohio are semi-evergreen. These azaleas perform best in full sun. With rhododendrons, the smaller the leaf, the less shade they should have. The leaves of ‘Hino-Red’ are dark green, small, narrow and turn coppery-bronze at the onset of winter.
Tony Shammarello, (1903-1982) based in South Euclid, Ohio, bred ‘Hino-Red’ more than 50 years ago. It is a complex cross that includes ‘Hino-Crimson’, a Royal Horticultural Society Award of Merit winner which Shammarello bred in 1940 and Korean azalea (R. yedoense var. poukhanense), interbred with a combination of torch azalea (R. kaempferi) crossed with ‘James Gable’, an evergreen azalea selected by Joseph Gable of western Pennsylvania. Shammarello, along with the late Peter Girard Sr. of Geneva and David G. Leach of Madison are the best known hybridizers of rhododendrons and azaleas from Northeast Ohio.
The Holden Arboretum has been growing ‘Hino-Red’ since 1964. It has bloomed profusely about nine years out of 10. In 1984 and 1994 only the branches below snow line had many flowers as frosts below -20 degrees F. nipped their buds in January. Plants not fenced have been browsed severely by white-tailed deer. Inside the Helen S. Layer Rhododendron Garden it may be seen blooming in May southwest of Heath Pond near the work road and the path that leads up to Beech Knoll.
Even Leach gave ‘Hino-Red’ a prime spot in his landscape in Madison, along with ‘Hino-Pink’ and ‘Hino-White’. It can still be found growing by the pond ringed with yellow iris (Iris pseudoacorus) at the David G Leach Research Station. On average the best time to view the flowers at Holden is mid-May but the plants have started blooming as early as the end of April (2010) and the last week of May (1983) in the Layer Rhododendron Garden. Bloom typically lasts two to three weeks.
Our champion specimen of ‘Hino-Red’ in the southeast locust grove at Leach Research Station is 11’ x 14’. The plant by Leach’s pond measured 6’ x 9’. The mass planting southwest of Heath Pond has one plant in it that is about 9’ tall. All these plants are more than around 40 years old. After 10 years they grow to about 2-3’ tall.
It is not easy to say what the “best” evergreen azalea for our landscapes is. In the Layer Rhododendron Garden’s Palay Bed north of Oak Pond ‘Hino-Crimson’ is planted along with ‘Hino-White’ next to a nice new Korean azalea named ‘Pink Discovery’. As you proceed around the garden’s loop path you will discover other evergreen azaleas of various colors which may catch your fancy. Please come out for a stroll in May and let us know if you have a favorite.