great laurel

Rhododendron maximum

Other Common Names

white rosebay, great rhododenron

Plant Type

Small Tree/Large Shrub (10-25 ft)

Life Cycle


Typical Size

5-15 ft. tall
5-12 ft. wide

Inolerant of

Direct Afternoon Sun


By seed

Plant Propagation Notes

No pretreatment is necessary. The best temperature range for germination is between 45-50 degrees.

Plant Planting Notes

Provide up to 12 ft spacing. Pruning should be done after flowering.


A number of insects may inhabit great laurel including aphids, borers, lace bugs, leafhoppers, mealybugs, mites, nematodes, scale, thrips, and white fly. Disease that affect great laurel include canker, crown rot, leaf spot, rust, and powdery mildew. Root rot may occur in poorly drained soils.

Wildlife Benefits

Nectar/pollen source for pollinating insects, Nectar source for hummingbirds


Leaves alternate, simple and smooth with a leathery texture; margins entire. Leaves greater than 6 inches long.


Large showy funnel-shaped flowers on a raceme.




Light brown bark is smooth when young and develops thin scales as the plant ages.


All parts of the plant are highly toxic if consumed, even in small amounts.

Rhododendron maximum

USDA Hardiness Zones

3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Light Exposure

Part Sun/Shade, Full Shade

Soil Moisture

Medium, Moist

Soil Drainage


Soil pH

Acidic (less than 6.0)

Native in South Carolina?


Plant Native Habitat

North-facing bluffs in the piedmont region as well as moist slopes and other acidic moist environments in the mountains.

Global Conservation Status (NatureServe)

Secure (G5)

Federal Conservation Status (USFWS)

Not Listed

Distribution Notes

Absent from the South Carolina coastal plain and sandhills. Uncommon in the piedmont. Common in the mountains.