10 Best Types of Azaleas for Your Garden
The Azalea Society of America says there are more than 10,000 registered varieties of azaleas. Find the right one for your garden for years of blooms.
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Conservation Piece Azalea
For pink flowers in spring, plus evergreen foliage for winter interest, plant a Conservation Piece Azalea, Rhododendron x Robin Hill ‘Conversation Piece’. This azalea is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 6 through 9 and only grows two to three feet tall.
Plant it in partial shade, especially during the hottest part of the day, in well-draining and slightly acidic soil. The flowers will appear in spring and range from dark to light pink, all on the same shrub.
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Flame Creeper Dwarf Spreading Azalea
Some azaleas grow quite large. If you need something small — perhaps for a low hedge, to trail over a wall or just to cover a lot of ground — try Rhododendron ‘Flame Creeper’.
While some may value it for its size — around two feet high — others may want it for the orange flowers which appear in late spring. Hardy in USDA Zones 6b through 9a, it can also be grown in containers in colder zones in containers if protected properly. It should grow to three to four feet wide.
Space together for a low hedge, or further apart if you want it to stand out. Like most azaleas, it grows best in well-drained, acidic soil in partial shade. Learn how to care for Rhododendrons.
Flame Azalea is the common name for Rhododendron calendulaceum, native in North America. Hardy in Zones 5b through 8b, flame azaleas can grow up to 12 feet tall. If that’s too much for your garden but you love the bright orange flowers which appear in mid-spring to early summer, prune it occasionally to keep it closer to six feet tall.
Once planted in partial shade, especially in the afternoons, it requires little additional maintenance.
Do you prefer red flowers over orange? The Hino-Crimson Azalea has red flowers that appear in spring, on plants that grow up to four feet tall and five feet wide.
Almost all azaleas do best in filtered sun. So if you have a wooded garden, the Hino-Crimson azalea would provide a big splash of red color in dappled shade. This azalea also has smaller leaves so it’s often used for bonsai. It also looks great in a garden when you let it grow to its natural size and shape.
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Rosy Lights Azaleas
For those who garden in colder zones, a series of azaleas called ‘Northern Lights’ are hardy in Zones 3 through 7. One, ‘Rosy Lights,‘ presents dark pink flowers in spring. It can grow up to six feet tall and wide and prefers partial shade and moist but well-drained soil.
When first planted, keep it well-watered and mulch to protect it from drying out. Once established, it should provide a magnificent display of flowers in late spring, even if winter temperatures drop below zero.
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Electric Lights Double Pink Azalea
Another hardy azalea to try is Electric Lights Double Pink Azalea, best in Zones 4 through 7. The flowers, which appear in mid to late spring, have double pink petals. This particular type will also do well in full sun, which isn’t true for all azaleas. It will slowly grow to a mature height of six to seven feet. To keep it smaller, prune it right after it flowers.
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If you thought your garden was too warm for azaleas, try an Alaska Azalea, Rhododendron indica ‘Alaska’. With a name like ‘Alaska,’ you might think this is a cold-hardy azalea. But it’s only hardy in Zones 9 through 11.
The white flowers appear in mid-spring. While ‘Alaska’ can tolerate some sun, it prefers partial shade and protection from the afternoon sun. The east or north side of your house would be a good spot for this azalea, which can grow up to five feet tall and wide.
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Autumn Twist Encore Azalea
There’s a trend in azalea breeding to create varieties that bloom throughout the growing season. Autumn Twist Encore Azalea blooms in spring with two-tone pink flowers and continues to have blooms through the summer and into fall. It also features evergreen foliage. Hardy in Zones 6 through 9, it can tolerate heat and drought once it’s established. It will slowly grow to a mature height of four to five feet.
Perfecto Mundo Double Purple Azalea
For another type of reblooming azalea, try the Perfecto Mundo series, which includes Perfecto Mundo Double Purple. Hardy in Zones 6 through 9, these will have the most bloom in spring. Then after a brief rest, they produce more blooms from summer until frost.
This is also a smaller azalea with evergreen foliage, topping out at around three feet. It would make a great accent plant in a smaller garden. It grows well in sun to part-shade.
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Southern Charm Azalea
Some people get their first look at azaleas on the second Sunday in April, when they tune in to watch the final round of the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Beautiful azaleas are in full bloom all along the golf course.
If you want azaleas reminiscent of that tournament, plant a row along the edge of your garden. If you live in Zones 8 through 9, consider Southern Charm Azalea, Rhododendron x Southern Charm, just for the name. It will grow to be a big shrub, six to eight feet tall.
Give it some light shade, especially in the afternoon. And enjoy the blooms in spring, just as they are teeing off at Augusta.