13 Types of Azaleas (Pictures + Fact Guides)

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by Max - last update on April 2, 2020, 1:51 am
Types of Azaleas

There are nearly 10,000 different types of azaleas, with many of them being native to different parts of the US. If you are an azalea fan and wish to plant one in your home garden, it should be fairly easy to find one that is suitable for your climate, as azaleas will grow in a range of conditions.

To find your perfect azalea, consider the following plants, which are some of the most beautiful and well-performing in the category of types of azaleas.

13 Types of Azaleas

1. Rosy Lights

Rosy Lights Azalea

Scientific Name: Rhododendron 'Rosy Lights'

Mature Size: Up to 6 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-7

Light: Full sun to partial sun

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, acidic

Flower Color: Pink

Special Features: Extreme cold-hardy buds

This azalea was developed by the University of Minnesota as part of their 'Northern Lights' series. The series was specifically created to develop a range of flower buds that could tolerate Minnesota winters, where temperatures can drop to as low as -45°F. This shrub blooms in late spring before the arrival of its foliage. The flowers appear in abundance, with large deep pink petals that are spotted with orange polka dots. The blooms are trumpet-shaped and followed by army green leaves, which become dark red in the fall (University of Minnesota).


2. Coastal Azalea

Coastal Azalea

Scientific Name: Rhododendron atlanticum

Mature Size: Up to 3 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-9

Light: Full sun to partial sun

Water: Moderate watering needs

Soil: Well-draining sandy soil to heavy clay soils

Flower Color: White

Special Features: Recipient of the Rhododendron of the Year Award

This plant earned its common name from its native habitat, as it grows natively along the southeast coast of the USA. It is also sometimes called the dwarf azalea, as it only grows to a mature height of 3 feet. This plant has a very strong, musky scent, which is produced by the white flowers which bloom in mid-spring. This azalea is tolerant of a range of soil types, being able to grow successfully even in clay soil, though it will spread more voraciously in sandy soils.


3. Sweet Azalea

Sweet Azalea

Scientific Name: Rhododendron arborescens

Mature Size: Up to 6 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9

Light: Full sun to partial sun

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, rich

Flower Color: White

Special Features: Showy, fragrant blooms

This plant blooms in summer with heavily scented white flowers, which often have pink or burgundy protruding stamens. It is native to the east of North America and can tolerate temperatures as low as -15°F. It is considered to be the fastest growing North American native azalea, and also grows to the greatest height. The foliage of this deciduous shrub is green and glossy, becoming dark purple-red in the fall. The sweet azalea, also known as the smooth azalea, has won the coveted Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.


4. Florida Flame Azalea

Florida Flame Azalea

Scientific Name: Rhododendron austrinum

Mature Size: Up to 6 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-9

Light: Partial sun

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Loamy, sandy, or clay soils

Flower Color: Golden orange

Special Features: Winner of the Rhododendron of the Year Award

This compact deciduous shrub is native to Florida and Georgia. It produces dense clusters of vivid golden flowers in early to mid-spring before the leaves have had a chance to emerge. The flowers are trumpet-shaped with frilled edges that curve back on themselves, giving the blooms a whimsical and unique look. The flowers also have a delightful scent, which can be enjoyed best if the shrub is planted along pathways or near terraces. It is heat tolerant but does not do well with cold temperatures, so it is best suited to mild climates.


5. Pontic Azalea

Pontic Azalea

Scientific Name: Rhododendron luteum

Mature Size: Up to 5 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-9

Light: Full sun to partial sun

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining

Flower Color: Yellow

Special Features: Striking fall foliage

This plant is native to Eastern Europe, including Poland and Russia. It has a fast growth habit, which results in a bushy mid-sized shrub. Flowers appear on floral trusses in late spring or early summer, covering the plant in bright yellow trumpet-shaped blooms. The flowers have a strong and sweet scent and measure up to 2 inches across. The foliage of the plant is also visually pleasing, with green leaves that become various shades of orange, red, and yellow in the fall. All parts of this plant are toxic if ingested, so keep it away from small children and pets.


6. Western Azalea

Western Azalea

Scientific Name: Rhododendron Occidentale

Mature Size: Up to 15 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7-9

Light: Partial shade

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Well-draining, acidic

Flower Color: White

Special Features: Heavily scented flowers

This azalea is native to the western side of the USA, which is why it is commonly referred to as the western azalea, though it is also sometimes called the Pacific azalea and the late-season azalea, as it blooms fairly late in the year for a plant of this type. It is considered to have the largest flowers of all the white azaleas, and these spectacular flowers give off a heady sweet yet spicy scent, reminiscent of cloves. The flowers are unique in that they are also sometimes flushed with pink, and have a yellow-orange center. This plant prefers to be grown in a position of partial shade, ideally with full sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon when the sun is at its most intense. The flowers of this plant bloom during summer, though the foliage is equally interesting. Leaves are glossy green on arrival, developing to rich shades of orange and green in the fall, before dropping to the ground.


7. Roseshell Azalea

Roseshell Azalea

Scientific Name: Rhododendron prinophyllum

Mature Size: Up to 8 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-8

Light: Partial sun

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Well-draining

Flower Color: Pink

Special Features: Showy flowers

The roseshell azalea is very winter hardy and can tolerate temperatures as low as -25°F. It is native to North America, including Quebec, Maine, New Hampshire, and Ohio. This plant is especially showy, even for an azalea. Its blooms appear in large clusters, with delicate pale pink petals contrasted by vibrant hot pink stamens that protrude elegantly out of the flower. The foliage is also eye-catching, in a blue-green shade during summer, and a dark purple in fall. Growing to between 3 and 8 feet tall, this shrub has an upright habit that naturally takes on a rounded shape. It works well in borders, but can also be pruned into an attractive privacy fence.


8. Royal Azalea

Royal Azalea

Scientific Name: Rhododendron schlippenbachii

Mature Size: Up to 6 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-8

Light: Partial sun

Water: Moderate

Soil: Well-draining, neutral or acidic

Flower Color: Pink

Special Features: All year interest

This azalea is native to Japan and Korea and is extremely cold hardy. It is a reliable bloomer, with its stunning flowers arriving early in the middle of spring. The flowers have a mild fragrance and a beautiful pale pink color. They have a more open shape than most azalea flowers, with widely spread out petals and gently curving stamens. The branches of the plant reach upwards to create a well-balanced rounded shape, which is a sight to behold in winter when the leaves drop, and the skeleton of the shrub can be truly appreciated. The foliage of the plant is green in summer, warming up to shades of red and orange in fall. Though this plant prefers acidic soil, it is considered to be tolerant of more neutral soils than most other azaleas.


9. Plumleaf Azalea

Plumleaf Azalea

Scientific Name: Rhododendron prunifolium

Mature Size: Up to 10 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9

Light: Partial sun

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Well-draining, acidic

Flower Color: Orange-red

Special Features: Award-winning

This plant gets its common name from its foliage, which develops into a distinctive plum color in the fall, hence the name 'plumleaf azalea.' It is a visually stunning plant when in bloom, with striking trumpet-shaped orange-red flowers appearing in heavy clusters. Flowers typically measure 2 inches across, with up to 8 flowers in each cluster. This plant is native to the southeastern United States, and blooms fairly late for an azalea, in mid or late summer. It enjoys a partially shaded position, with some respite from the intense heat of the afternoon sun. It is a two-time winner of the Rhododendron of the Year Award from the American Rhododendron Society.


10. Swamp Azalea

Swamp Azalea

Scientific Name: Rhododendron viscosum

Mature Size: Up to 8 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Light: Full sun to partial sun

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, acidic

Flower Color: White

Special Features: Award-winning

This plant is commonly known as the swamp azalea as it is native to the swampy areas of the eastern United States, including Texas, Mississippi, the Carolina's, and all the way up to New England. This is a cold-hardy shrub that can withstand temperatures down to -20°F. It spreads through root suckers, which will see it naturalize gradually. The flowers of the plant are white, with a strong clove-like scent. They bloom in the middle of summer, making this a late-season azalea. Flowers have a wide funnel shape, and develop in small but heavily packed clusters. The foliage is equally attractive, with dark green summer leaves which develop into an array of fall shades as the year progresses. This plant has won the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.


11. Pink-Shell Azalea

Pink-Shell Azalea

Scientific Name: Rhododendron vaseyi

Mature Size: Up to 15 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-7

Light: Partial sun

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Well-draining, acidic

Flower Color: White

Special Features: Multiple award winner

This plant is native to South and North Carolina, in the southern parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It has delicately beautiful flowers that bloom in early to mid-spring before the leaves of the plant appear. The flowers, on bare stems, are pale pink in color and have a flat face. When the foliage develops, it is a glossy dark green, which transforms to flaming orange-red in the fall, before dropping from the shrub.


12. Encore Autumn Lilac

Encore Autumn Lilac

Scientific Name: Rhododendron Encore Autumn Lilac

Mature Size: Up to 3 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-10

Light: Full sun to partial sun

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining, acidic

Flower Color: Lilac

Special Features: Repeat bloomer

This plant is part of the 'Encore' series, which are known for the ability to bloom several times a year. To encourage a further bloom, prune back the stems immediately after flowers have faded. This plant tends to bloom initially in spring for a few weeks, and will then continue to spontaneously bloom until the first frost, though this will be affected by climate and other growing conditions. The flowers of this plant are lilac with evergreen foliage. The shrub has a compact habit and is ideal for borders and low hedging.

13. Weston's Innocence

Scientific Name: Rhododendron' Weston's Innocence'

Mature Size: Up to 8 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-8

Light: Full sun to partial sun

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining

Flower Color: White

Special Features: Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies

This azalea blooms heavily from late spring to early summer with clusters of white trumpet-shaped flowers. It is incredibly tolerant of cool temperatures, able to withstand temperatures as low as -25°F, though it will need to be protected from frost during blooming to prevent damage to the flowers. This shrub has a dense and compact habit, growing easily in moist and rich soils. It has received the Rhododendron of the Year Award from the American Rhododendron Society for the northeast of the country, and works well as hedging, in borders, and as a privacy screen.


13 Types of Azaleas (Pictures + Fact Guides)

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