Grown as garden plants for many years, Vireya Rhododendrons are increasingly popular and are an easy care garden plant. Most are small in size and many varoeties are suited to cooler climates. They can be grown in the garden, in containers and some are suited to hanging baskets.
With many new cultivars available for sale from nurseries and specialist growers in Australia, some of the best varieties of these wonderful plants are readily available online. They are one of the most under rated rhododendron plants available for sale. Size wise, these are not as big as their cousins, however the flowers are beautiful. Many have colourful flowers, and the ability grow and flower well in shady positions is a real attraction.
Sometimes seen as a tropical plant, they are actually very versatile. In Australia they grow well in Queensland right through to the Dandenong Ranges. As long as they are grown in a sheltered position away from frosts and in a humus rich free draining soil. They are easily pruned to maintain shape.
In terms or origin, Vireya Rhododendrons are small species of evergreen group of shrubs originally from the tropical forests of New Guinea, Borneo and the Philippines.
With colorful flowers they make great specimens in a pot on a sheltered patio or verandah as well as in the garden itself. Pictured above is the species Vireya Stenophyllum, however it is the colorful hybrids that are increasingly popular with gardeners.
Two Types of Vireya Rhododendrons
Both tropical and cool climate types are available, the tropical types will tolerate cold winters and hot summers, the cool climate varieties do not grow well in the hot tropical areas.
Vireya Rhododendron Care
Vireyas are an evergreen shrub that do well in cultivation. Colourful scented blooms, sometimes up to 3 times a year make Vireyas a welcome addition to any garden.
A frost free dappled shade is the best position, with a well drained humus rich soil. Mulch well with an open mulch. The right time to apply liquid fertilizer is in Spring and Autumn. A slow release fertilizer is also beneficial, when applied in early spring.
Pruning Vireya Rhododendrons
You can tip prune to maintain shape, long leggy stems can be removed after flowering is complete. As with most plants a fertilizer high in potassium applied to Vireyas will help promote flowering.
The best time to prune to shape is during spring through to early summer. Look for a good healthy section of leaf growth on the stem and prune just above this. Removal of spent flower heads and seed pods can be carried out at any time.
Growing Vireyas from cuttings
As with most rhododendrons, Vireyas strike easily from cuttings and these can be taken at any time of the year. What you should be after is new growth that has hardened off a little, but not old woody growth.
Cuttings should be around 10cm and ensure the cut is clean, remove the outer layer of bark for 4cm at the end you are going to,plant, and cut back the foliage by at least 1/2. Use a rooting hormone, liquid or powder and you are ready to put the cuttings into the growing media. About 5cm below and the rest above the mix. A fine pine bark mix works well.
A greenhouse is great, so that you can keep the humidity up, a little bottom heat is also useful, however a plastic bag over the top can do the same job, cuttings should be kept moist, a spray with a misting spray now and then, and in 12 weeks or so the cuttings should have developed a root system. You now have successfully taken your first Vireya cuttings.
- Plant Vireyas in dappled shade NOT full sun.
- Good drainage and a humus rich soil
- Mulch to maintain a cool root run
- Always water well before fertilizing to prevent root burn
- Do not dig around the base of the plant, Vireyas resent root disturbance.
- Vireyas grow well in containers and pots
- Well drained humus rich moist soil
- Mulch around plants to maintain a cool root run
- Best in dappled shade and a frost free position
- Pruning is generally not required, however you can tip prune after flowering to help maintain a bushy habit.
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You can buy Vireyas Online from the following nurseries
Wide range of Bromeliads, Nepenthies pitcher plants, Anthuriums and Tropical Rhododendrons or Vireyas. All available for sale by mail order from Riverside Bromeliads and Denali Bromeliads.