How to Choose Azaleas


Choosing azaleas for your landscape lets you explore 18th- and 19th-century links between America, Europe and Japan. The delicate foliage and abundant colorful flowers excited early plant hunters and naturalists and stimulated a broad range of experiments in hybridization. Results are evident in the still-growing variety of azaleas available to gardeners.

Step 1

Choose native or hybrid azalea plants suited to your local climate. Originating in temperate-to-warm Mid-Atlantic and Southern mountain states, deciduous azaleas still display limits in heat and cold tolerance. Only one native azalea (Rhododendron occidentale) originated on the Pacific Coast. Evergreen azaleas originated in the moderate climate of Japan.

Step 2

Determine the space requirements for the azaleas you choose. Varieties range from 1 foot to 6 feet tall when mature, usually with similar widths. While massed plantings can be visually impressive, start azaleas with adequate space for healthy maturation.

Step 3

Plant azaleas in slightly acidic soil and mix in rotted leaf or other organic compost. Soil should be loamy, not hard-packed. Plant your shrubs in filtered shade and do not let them dry out; prolonged dry spells and intense heat damage azaleas of all varieties.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not remove native specimens from the wild. Increased development has greatly reduced wild-growing flowering plants.


  • Creating Hospitable Conditions for Azaleas
  • Native Azaleas
  • History, Hybridizers and Varieties
Keywords: azaleas, choosing azaleas, how to choose azaleas

About this Author

Janet Beal has written for various websites, covering a variety of topics, including gardening, home, child development and cultural issues. Her work has appeared on early childhood education and consumer education websites. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Harvard University and a Master of Science in early childhood education from the College of New Rochelle.