When happy with its lot, R. hippophaeoides is a beautiful erect shrub which flowers reliably every spring with grey-blue flowers. Often it flowers twice if there is an Indian summer, i.e. a long warm autumn. This second autumn flush seems not to affect the spring flowering.
This species is one of the easiest to grow and commonest of the Lapponica subsection sub-shrub rhododendrons, and is claimed to be hardy to -32°C in mid-winter. One drawback to this is that it looks dead! In autumn the leaves turn brown but remain hanging on the shrub, which suggests it may have died. However, come the spring, recovery begins and most of the leaves take on healthy colour as the weather warms.
The combination of spring sun and freezing winds can be fatal to this Chinese beauty, so a protected spot with plenty of snow cover but also plentiful light in summer are the most suitable in the Finnish climate. Judging by its natural habitat, this species might be expected to tolerate wetness, and even standing water. At Mustila it has been planted on the banks of the bog pool. The variety ‘Haba Shan’, selected from the wild, has grown well enough, particularly with winter snow cover.