A Guide to Azalea Flower Colors
Azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) are spring-blooming flowering shrubs. Their spectacularly showy blooms exhibit great diversity of form and color.
The colors of azaleas range from bold hues—there are red azaleas, hot pink azaleas, purple azaleas and orange azaleas—to softer pastel shades and even white varieties. Bicolor hybrids are also available.
Native Azalea Colors
Some 17 species of azaleas are native to the United States. All of these species are deciduous, meaning they shed their leaves in the fall.
- Sweet Azalea: Found in the Appalachian Mountains, the sweet azalea (Rhododendron arborescens, zones 4 to 7) has very fragrant white flowers. In some cases, the flowers may be pale pink.
- Flame Azalea: The flame azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum, zones 5 to 7) produces funnel-shaped flowers that may be yellow, orange or red in color.
- Swamp Azalea: The swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum, zones 4 to 9), as you might deduce from its name, occurs in wet areas, like swamps and bogs. The flowers of this species are tubular and fragrant and may be white or pale pink.
- Piedmont Azalea: Also known as the mountain azalea and the Florida pinkster, the Piedmont azalea (Rhododendron canescens, zones 5 to 9) has pink flowers.
On rare occasions, the flowers may be white.
Nonnative Azalea Colors
Most evergreen azaleas are native to Japan and other parts of Asia. The flowers of these azaleas may be red, orange, pink, purple or white. However, you won't find species of evergreen azaleas with yellow flowers.
Examples of evergreen azaleas include the Southern Indian azalea (Rhododendron indicum, zones 7 to 8). Contrary to what its name suggests, it is native to Japan. This species has red, burgundy or pink flowers.
Hybrid Azalea Colors
Azaleas have been hybridized for hundreds of years, and there are thousands of cultivars from which to choose. Let's look at some popular types of hybrids and the colors in which they come.
- Southern Indica Hybrids: These large plants are prized for their oversize flowers, which come in many different colors. The George Lindley Tabor, which produces orchid-colored pink flowers, is a widely planted cultivar in the Southern United States. Mrs. G. G. Gerbing is a popular white cultivar. Formosa has magenta-color flowers.
- Kurume Hybrids: These small evergreen azalea shrubs, which have a height between 3 and 5 feet, are available in shades of red, pink and purple as well as white. Popular cultivars include Coral Bells, which has salmon-pink flowers, and Snow, which is white.
- Satsuki Hybrids: The Satsuki hybrids are good options if you are looking for azaleas that have patterns on the flowers. These hybrids are available in purple, orange, red-orange, whitish pink and yellowish pink among other shades.
- Aromi Hybrids:
The flowers of these deciduous hybrids often feature various shades. For example, the buds of the Aromi Sunrise cultivar are an orange-red color, while the flowers are light orange with a darker center. * Encore Hybrids: Azalea hybrids in the patented and trademarked Encore series have been bred to rebloom, unlike other azaleas. The hybrids are available in red fuchsia, pink, coral, lavender and white. There are bicolor options too.
- Mississippi State University Extension: Azaleas for the Landscape
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Rhododendron calendulaceum
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Azalea Planting
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Rhododendron viscosum
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Rhododendron arborescens
- Azalea Society of America: Learn About Azaleas - In Their Many Varieties
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Rhododendron indicum
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Azaleas
- Alabama Cooperative Extension System: Evergreen Azaleas for Alabama
Since beginning her career as a professional journalist in 2007, Nathalie Alonso has covered a myriad of topics, including arts, culture and travel, for newspapers and magazines in New York City. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and lives in Queens with her two cats.