In 2008 I had just started collecting mother plants for rhododendron breeding. We bought the current property in 2007 and in the previous property there was no suitable sites for rhododendrons so all my plants have been
planted since that year. I was anyway eager to start hybridizing and had collected pollen and bought some from Rhododendron Species Foundation, USA. Since about the only mother plant I had was a newly-bought P.M.A. Tigerstedt in a pot I decided to try evrything
I had on it. Having studied genetics and being a science geek I was eager to try weird crosses, though I was well aware that chances of getting viable progeny were meager. So I put pollen of lepidotes and deciduous azaleas on an elepidote. The first picture
shows a chimeric (half albino) seedling from the cross P.M.A. Tigerstedt X R. impeditum, from which I got altogether 7 seedlings. All perished eventually.
The second image shows PMA-T X R. edgeworthii. The cross gave plenty of seeds but only about 10 seedling, all very pale, hairy little freaks. All died without gaining more than a few pairs of leaves.
Thirdly, an azaleodendron cross, PMA-T X R. luteum. The seedling on the right has patchy leaves, likely a sign of chimerism. These seedlings, about 5 in the end, grew well and were
very clearly true hybrids. They became 5-10 cm high and were thriving, but I killed them by trying to overwinter them in too warm tempereature. I will not forgive myself this loss, as I have since then repeated the cross several times but have not suceeded
any longer. The pollen parent was R. luteum Golden Comet from RSF. Perhaps thus cultivar has something special to it, as it was able to produce viable hybrids with an elepidote?
As a control, a "normal" (elepidote X elepidote) cross September flair X PMA-T, which produced plenty of seeds and germinated well. September Flair is a bright orange-flowered low growing
hybrid from Hachmann. It has done surpisingly well with me and even flowers in warm autumns. It is so low (<50cm) that iy is easy to cover with snow and has not got much winter damage here. Btw, SF doen not produce pollen or op seeds, but is quite fertile
when hand pollinated. These qualities make it an excellent mother for breeding. In addition, one plant from this cross has flower buds now (Dec. 2013), when only about 20 cm high. I'm thrilled to see next spring if this seedling has inherited orange flower