Rosebay Rhododendron

Scientific Name:  Rhododendron maximum

Light:  Part Sun to Shade

Zone:  3 to 7

Height:  15 to 20 feet

Width:  5 to 12 feet

Flowers:  May to August, white or pink

Fruit/Seed:  September to November, tan to red capsule

Fall Color:  evergreen

Butterflies: attracted to its blooms

Birds:  Ruffed grouse and wild turkeys eat the buds and leaves.  It provides valuable winter and escape cover ruffed grouse, wild turkey, and many songbirds.

Hummingbird:  attracted to its blooms

Deer Resistant: Occasionally severely damaged

Insects/Pollinators:  Bees are attracted to its blooms

Native:  Mountain & Piedmont of Maryland

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Rosebay Rhododendron, also called Great Laurel, provides food and shelter for many kids of birds with warblers swarming over the flowers and foliage for insects.   Ruffed grouse and wild turkeys eat the buds and leaves. It is browsed by white-tailed deer, primarily in fall and winter.  Beavers browse twigs; small mammals, including the white-footed mouse and Allegheny wood rat, eat the leaves; and rabbits eat the bark, young wood, leaves, and buds.  This plant is moderately resistant to damage from deer.  It proves winter and extreme weather coverage.  Hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees are attracted to its blooms.  

Rosebay Rhododendron is poisonous to horses, causing labored breathing, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and death

Rosebay Rhododendron provides valuable winter and escape cover for white-tailed deer, eastern cottontail, black bear, snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse, wild turkey, and many songbirds. Dense thickets of it provide den sites, daybeds, and escape cover for black bears

Rhododendrons are susceptible to many insect and disease problems.  Poor drainage inevitably leads to root rot so raised plantings should be used in heavy clay soils.  Rosebay Rhododendron does not like heat or humidity.


var. album – white flowers

var. purpureum – deep pink to purple flowers with green spotting.

var. roseum  – reddish buds, pink flowers,12′ tall

‘Leachii’  – smaller leaves with deeply wavy margins, more compact, pinkish-white blooms.

‘Midsummer’ – pink blooms with a slightly gold throat.

‘Pride’s Pink’ – hardy, large pink blooms.


Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Rosebay Rhododendron – USDA

Rosebay Rhododendron – Missouri Botanical Garden

Rosebay Rhododendron – University of Connecticut Plant Database

Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance – Rutgers

Rosebay Rhododendron – North Carolina State Extension

Rosebay Rhododendron – USDA Forest Service

Recommended for Wildlife by

Gardening for the Birds by George Adams

Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Bringing Nature Home by Tallamy

Essential Native Trees and Shrubs for the Eastern United States by Dove & Woolridge

Additional information


Zone 5, Zone 6, Zone 7


Part Sun, Shade


Loam, Moist, Wet

Flower Color

Pink, White

Flower Season

Spring, Summer


Mountain, Piedmont

Wildlife Value

Beneficial Insects, Hummingbird, Nectar, Summer Cover, Winter Cover

Notable Features

Evergreen, Rabbit Resistant

Local Availability

Not Available


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