VIREYA (MALAYSIAN) RHODODENDRONS

A BRIEF HISTORY

Vireya rhododendrons offer tropical beauty with an intriguing history that makes growing them an adventure. Available at last to the home grower, these plants were discovered in the South Pacific in 1843. Specimens were taken to England by plant fanciers who treated them as hot-house flowers until war time and economic hardship made pampering tropical rhododendrons a luxury few could afford. The collections of species and hybrids died out over time because of two wars and hard financial times.

After World War II, plantsmen brought Vireyas to America. Since 1960, botanists and hobbyists have collected, hybridized and grown over 400 species and hybrids.

From the time we first began listing Vireyas as part of our 1982 catalog, our enthusiasm for these lovely exotic rhododendrons has been expanding at a great rate. In 1987, in response to a growing interest, we sent out our first all-Vireya catalog, with 45 plants listed. Our new 1997 catalog has most of the previous listings plus many exciting new ones.

Our personal collection has now grown to over 400 different plants, both hybrids and species. As each plant blooms we carefully evaluate it for quality of flowers. From time to time a few older names are dropped, but many new wonderful hybrids are added. Because of a few recent plant hunters, we also have acquired many new-to-cultivation species which are exciting to study and learn about.

We are very grateful to those collectors who first exposed us to this fascinating plant group. The first to visit us was Carl Deul from Southern California, and then came Peter Schick, a well known and very generous collector from Fort Bragg, California. Dick Cavender, from Oregon, is another good friend and grower who has been very generous with plants and advice. Our largest acquisition of plants came from Dr. Arne Jensen who lived on the central Oregon coast. Bill Moynier in Los Angeles has been a special friend and contributor.

Visitors are always welcome to see the entire collection whenever the Nursery is open. The low period of blooming is in mid summer. The middle of winter is often the best blooming time when we can have over 50 plants in bloom.

Vireyas bloom more than once a year in most cases, and some older plants and many of the newer dwarf hybrids tend to bloom all year long, a few flowers at a time.