Azaleas are one of the most popular garden and landscape plants in North America due to their colorful blossoms and ease of care. There are over 10,000 registered species and hybrids, many of which are adaptable to warm or very cold climates.
Rhododendron vs Azalea
Both rhododendrons and azaleas are members of the genus Rhododendron, but azaleas usually stay smaller and have smaller leaves. Azalea flowers typically have five or six stamens, while rhododendrons typically have 10.
Most azalea flowers are 2 to 3 inches wide, however they range from 1/2 inch up to 5 inches. Most flowers have five petals, but double flowers can have up to 30 petals.
Some varieties of azalea plants lose their leaves during the fall and winter and enter a dormant period. Flowering usually occurs on the bare stems in spring before the leaves sprout out.
Evergreen azaleas prefer a slightly warmer climate than deciduous types and they keep their leaves all year. It is not uncommon for them to drop some leaves during a harsh winter.
Azaleas prefer acidic, well-draining, moist soil with organic matter mixed in. They like moderate climates, USDA zones 6 through 8, but some varieties can take lower or higher temperatures.
- U.S. National Arboretum
- Univ. of Missouri Extension: Growing Azaleas and Rhododendrons
- Azalea Society of America
rhododendron, deciduous azalea, evergreen azalea
About this Author
Brian Albert has been in the publishing industry since 1999. He is an expert in horticulture, with a focus on aquatics and tropical plants like orchids. He has successfully run an aquatic plant business for the last five years. Albert's writing experience includes the Greater Portland Aquarium Society newsletter and politics coverage for a variety of online journals.