Introduction and Breeding of Rhododendrons in Latvia

Rihards Kondratovičs 1  and Uldis Kondratovičs 1
  • 1 Experimental Rhododendron Breeding Nursery “Babīte”, University of Latvia, “Rododendri”, Spilve, Babite regional community, LV-2101, , Latvia


Rhododendrons are relatively new beautiful ornamental plants in Latvia forming an essential part of public and private gardens, although they were introduced in Latvian territory already during the first half of 19th century. Rhododendrons deserve their immense popularity due to the diversity of their habitat, size and type of blossoms and leaves and their flowering season. There are about 1000 rhododendron species in the wild up to now whereas breeders in various countries have created more than 30 000 cultivars. Intensive rhododendrons introduction and acclimatization in Latvia started in 1957 when Rihards Kondratovičs, at the time director of the Botanical Garden, University of Latvia, started his research on the introduction and acclimatization of rhododendrons. Winterhardiness of about 400 wild species in Latvia was tested and 76 species were found to be suitable. Following the development of an extensive collection of wild rhododendron species and cultivars, the Rhododendron Breeding and Experimental Nursery “Babīte”, University of Latvia, was established at 1980 and the active breeding of new winterhardy cultivars was started. In 2017, the collection of outdoor rhododendrons of the University of Latvia consists of 76 species and 265 cultivars, including 109 cultivars bred in Latvia by Professor Rihards Kondratovičs.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Anonymous (2004). International Rhododendron Register and Checklist. Royal Horticultural Society, London. 1544 pp.

  • Berg J., Heft L. (1991). Rhododendron und immergrüne Laubgehölze. 3. Aufl., Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart. 272 S.

  • Chamberlain, D. F. (1982). A Revision of Rhododendron II. Subgenus Hymenanthes. Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. 39 (2), 209-486.

  • Chamberlain, D., Hyam, R., Argent, G., Fairweather, G., Walter, K. S. (1996). The Genus Rhododendron, Its Classification and Synonymy. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Oxford, U. K. 181 pp.

  • Cox, P. A., Cox, K. N. E. (1997). Encyclopedia of Rhododendron Species. Glendoick Publishing. 416 pp.

  • Cullen, J. (1980). A Revision of Rhododendron I. Subgenus Rhododendron sections Rhododendron & Pogonanthum. Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. 39 (1), 1-207

  • Irving, E., Hebda, R. (1993). Concerning the origin and distribution of rhododendrons. J. Amer. Rhododendron Soc., 47 (3), 139-162

  • Kondratovics, U., Kondratovics, R., Riekstina, G. (2016). Die Geschichte der Rhododendron-Kultur in Lettland. In: Rhododendron und Immergrüne. Band 21. DRG, Bremen., S. 40-57 (in German).

  • Kondratovics, R., Kondratovics, U., Riekstina, G. (2016). Rhododendron Culture in Latvia. Rhododendrons International, Vol. 1, Part 2, pp. 77-87. Available at:


Journal + Issues