The Top Azaleas and Rhododendrons


By Dave Whitinger

#1: Southern Indica Hybrid Azalea (Rhododendron indicum)

@Newyorkrita said, "Late spring brings the Azalea blooms. Some of my shrubs growing here in my garden are over 50 years old. Still looking fabulous each spring."

#2: Flame Azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum)

@SongofJoy says, "Flame Azalea is common to the Appalachians where it lights up the late spring woods with every pale and brilliant shade of yellow, orange, red, and salmon. The 2 inch, non-fragrant flowers are borne in open trusses just as their leaves are beginning to come out. Plants are loosely branched and upright growing to about 6 feet. Fall foliage color is yellow or pale red. It likes good soil that is well drained, and bright indirect light."

#3: Great Laurel (Rhododendron maximum)

@robertduval14 says, "West Virginia's state flower"

@SongofJoy added, "The word maximum refers to the large size of these plants. A mature specimen is generally 15 feet tall but may become tree-like reaching up to 40 feet. The plant habit is spreading. It is widerr than tall."

#5: Coastal azalea (Rhododendron atlanticum)

@SongofJoy says, "Coast Azalea is a 4&½ foot tall, erect, suckering shrub with bluish-green foliage and fragrant, pinkish-white, long-stamened, mid-spring flowers that usually open before plants leaf out. This species occurs naturally in the coastal plain from Delaware to South Carolina in flat pine woods and savannahs usually where it is moist but also in xeric sand hills. This suggests its use in high open shade in moist to dry areas with good drainage."

#6: Piedmont Azalea (Rhododendron canescens)

@plantladylin says, "The Sweet Pinxter Azalea is a perennial Florida native, attaining heights to 12 feet. Habitat for this beautiful shrub is in the northern range of the state, growing in the dappled shade of moist woodlands, along stream banks and in swamp margins.

Rhododendron canescens bursts into flower in early spring, starting before the leaves emerge. The fragrant, showy flowers are borne in 4 to 8 inch round clusters, with several 2 to 3 inch long pink to pinkish-white flowers. Each flower has five wavy petals forming a tube, and broadly flaring at the mouth. The very long pistils and stamens curve upward, protruding from the tube well out beyond the petals. Fruit of the Sweet Pinxter Azalea is a hairy, reddish-brown cylindrical pod approximately 1/2 to 3/4 inch in length.

Rhododendron canescens ("Sweet Pinxter Azalea") along with Rhododendron austrinum ("Orange Azalea"/"Florida Flame Azalea") are among five Rhododendron species found in Florida and are the two most well known."

#7: Western azalea (Rhododendron occidentale)

@Bonehead says, "Native in the Pacific Northwest. Fully grown can reach 10' tall. Light fragrance."

#8: Pinxterbloom Azalea (Rhododendron periclymenoides)

@SongofJoy says, "Pinxterbloom occurs naturally along streams and in bogs in light woods. However, it is also well adapted to drier, rocky soils. Mid to late spring flowers are 1&½ to 2 inches wide, borne in trusses of 6 to 12, and appear just before the leaves emerge. The delicate petals curl back exposing long stamens and styles. Flowers range from soft pink to dark pink and are sweetly scented and very beautiful. Growing to about 6 feet tall, it is more densely branched than other deciduous azaleas and spreads by stolons or underground runners. Good for moist areas.

This plant is frequented by butterflies, especially Swallowtails, Gulf Fritillaries and migrating Monarchs."

#10: Cumberland Azalea (Rhododendron cumberlandense)

@SongofJoy says, "Cumberland Azalea is a beautiful deciduous azalea that occurs on wooded slopes in the Cumberland Plateau of Kentucky and Tennessee and in the mountains of Georgia, North Carolina, and Alabama. It is a low growing and later blooming azalea (early to mid-summer) with beautiful trusses of orange to red flowers that are not fragrant. In cultivation, it will be from 1 to 6 feet tall and wide, and prefers full sun in the north to partial shade in the south with well drained, but good, acidic soil."

The most thumbed-up image in the Rhododendrons area is shown below:

About Dave Whitinger
Thumb of 2020-03-17/dave/72728eDave is the Executive Director of National Gardening Association.

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