Among the hundreds of plants that Jefferson observed or cultivated at Monticello were over forty shrubs. In 1799, the plant collector John Fraser discovered Catawba Rhododendron growing in the Great Smoky Mountains on a summit "which commands a view of five states." Fraser and his son brought plants back to Britain in 1809 where it soon became a valuable Rhododendron for breeding with species from Russia and the Himalayas. Jefferson grew Rhododendron maximum, which he referred to as "Rosebay," and Rhododendron periclymeniodes, Pinxter azalea (also known as Pinxterbloom), which he called "Wild honeysuckle," as well as a related species, Kalmia latifolia.
Visit Monticello’s Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Catawba Rhododendron.
Typical Blooming Dates: May–June
Growth Type: Woody Shrub
Blossom Color(s): Pink, White
Hardiness Zones: 2–9
Location at Monticello: East Lawn
Planting Conditions: Full Sun and Partial Shade