This is a photo I took this morning of a rhododendron blooming in the cul-de-sac where I live. It is the last day of January. Several plants are doing this around the complex. Prime rhododendron season is April to July. There are a couple of reasons to see blooming at atypical times:
- There are early/winter blooming rhododendron varieties such as 'Christmas Cheer' or 'PJM'
- They sometimes get mixed signals from weather or daylight which stimulate blooming
The weather here this winter has been fairly typical although we have gotten more rain than usual. Early this month, we had a cold snap where the temperature dropped to 27° F, -3° C. Since then, the temps have remained above freezing and as high as 58° F, 14° C. Our typical overcast has been broken up by several days with bright sunshine.
We had a few rhododendrons that pushed out two or three blooms early last fall. That was most likely due to confused plants getting the wrong signals. I have seen this in the past in my own rhododendrons. This one is most likely a very early bloomer. I know it is not PJM which has a different growth pattern, leaf and flower color. Based on its appearance, I am going to venture a guess that this is Christmas Cheer. Do you agree? Let me know.