The Finnish-bred ‘Raisa’ is low-growing, in shape a slightly flattened globe. The pollen came from a Mustila specimen of a low red-flowered Japanese variety (R. brachycarpum) which was put on the Mustila rhododendron (R. brachycarpum var. tigerstedtii).
'Raisa' was selected personally by Mihail Gorbatšov from four alternative plants sent to him to be named in memory of his wife. One hundred shrubs of the variety were donated for planting in the gardens of the Raisa Gorbatšova Hospital in St. Petersburg.
Another variety had previously been registered under the same name so the Finnish ‘Raisa’ can not be entered in the international register.
The small but intensely red flowers are quickly hidden by dense new foliage. ‘Raisa’ grows to about 70 cm in ten years.