'Nova Zembla' is among the best-selling red-flowered rhododendrons for cold climates, including Finland, where it still sells well. Although it is claimed to be hardy to -32°C this is an exaggeration: the buds already suffer frost damage at -26°C.The round trusses are a showy red with a touch of violet. The brilliance of the colour is emphasised by a darker splotch.
The hybrid grows strongly and would achieve 2 metres in ten years if it wasn’t checked by winter damage. The above-snow shoots are killed by hard frosts, but heavy snows may help, pressing the loose branches down into protection. Thus the habit easily becomes low, wide and straggly, as has happened at Mustila.