It might be species Rhododendron Occidentale http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/showimage/84312/ that picture is a good one of occidentale. It can have some variances in colors. But the first two pictures in the plant file for occidentale are Definitely Not occidentale. The others are.
I sure don't. There was a very old woman that lived in the house when we moved here a few years ago. I am sure that she must have planted it at least 10-15 years ago.
I am going to try and get some of the little saplings that are around the bottom that are branching out.I hope they will take off and bloom for me.
I'm looking at the size of the florets and I'm inclined to think that this is not "occidentale" but rather "forsterianum." "Occidentale" is more like an azalea than a rhodie with smallish florets. "Forsterianum" has typical rhodie-sized florets. They're both fragrant, but "forsterianum" has a more tropical fragrance. "Occidentale" is typically spicy in fragrance. I guess the real deciding factor is whether it is deciduous. "Occidentale" is deciduous, "forsterianum" not.
The flowers do look very similar to Forsterianum, as Jimbob said. However, I don't know that forsterianum is hardy enough to have made it for the number of years that your plant has. Forsterianum is hardy to around 20deg. and on a fair number of occasions in the last 50 years, Toledo has dropped well below 20 deg. Not for real long stretches of time, but long enough. hmmmmm...
Actually, I went out and looked at my little occidentale, which is technically a deciduous species , and it still has at least half of it's leaves. I can see that it would be possible that in an area almost 2 zones warmer than I am, that it might hold it's leaves until the new ones are set. And a bush of that age should have slightly larger flowers than a plant that's considerably younger. Forsterianum also holds it's leaves for 3 years, the one in the picture only has one years worth of leaves on it. So, it might not be occidentale, but it doesn't seem likely that it's forsterianum. It could very well be a select strain of occidentale as well since their are many rhododendron and azalea growers around the area of Toledo
Wow, you are very knowledgeable about these plants. I hope some day I will know half as much. It belongs to a close neighbor but I am hoping to get a cutting of sorts. Any recomendations along that line?
Well Mike, if it is occidentale... it will grow just fine in your location. Actually it would be one of the better of it's kind for there. However, if it's not occidentale, then...who knows! Forsterianum is only hardy down to zone 9. Don't feel too bad Mike, I share the same woes at times :-p
Thanks Gourdbeader, and really it's just that kind of plant that I know all right. You might ask the propagation question on that forum. I've seen it done plenty of times and know the general rules. However, I've only done it a couple of times myself. For cuttings, the best time to take them is when the soft wood is just starting to harden, which is late summer/early fall. you only take a small part of the branch. scrape a very thin layer of the bark off of about the bottom half inch of the branch. Dip it in rooting hormone and stick it in a seed tray or pot of very loose fluffy soil. something like a mixture of vermiculite and peat moss would be good. Then it need to be kept somewhere that doesn't drop below 55 deg. for a few months with consistent moisture. However, if you just want to do one or two, layering has a very high success rate. i've layered a few things before. If you can find someplace that has air layering pots, which are pretty cheap, you follow the directions on the pot. Mostly you put the pot around the branch (scratch the bark a little first) you're gowing to cut off. You can do a larger branch than with cuttings. Fill the pot with a loose potting medium, similar to cuttings, water well and your set to leave it there on the plant for a couple of months. make sure you water regularly. In a few months, when their are good roots in the pot, you cut the branch off below the pot. Remove the pot. Then plant your new plant out. It might not be a bad idea to transition it to a real pot for a while and then in the ground.
But, you might also keep in mind, that there really are some very good rhododendron nurseries that carry it, that are within a reasonable drive time. While it will cost some for the gas and plant, you can get a plant that you might see get close to the size of the one in the picture within 20 years. They will get to that height plenty soon, but to have trunks and character like that one is going to take a long time. As I mentioned above, there are strains of occidentale around as well. If you go looking for one, you could call nurseries ahead of time, and ask them if their carry select strains of it that either have: larger flowers, darker blotches, pink veined flowers, and there's even a double flowered strain.
That's a good sign! It's Sounds as if it's just waiting to get a head start on spring. But, that also means that it's quite likely 'occidentale' and the good part is then that it would be hardy enough that Mqiq77 could grow it!