All about Rhododendrons and Azaleas
Rhododendrons and Azaleas grow natively at the heights of the Himalayas, the mountain forests of Assam and Upper Burma, the remote hills of the Chinese hinterland, the islands of Japan, the tropical forests of Java and Sumatra, the fringes of the Arctic Circle and the eastern regions of North America. Today, Rhododendrons and Azaleas can be found worldwide.
Rhododendrons and Azaleas boast dazzling Spring flowers, and some varieties flower from Autumn, through Winter and into Spring. Both Azaleas and Rhododendrons are suited to cool climate gardens.
All Azaleas are Rhododendrons, yet not all Rhododendrons are Azaleas. This is because both plants are closely related, and belong to the genus ‘Rhododendron’. There are many different species within the ‘Rhododendron’ genus, and Azaleas are just a small group.
Azaleas are amongst the world’s most admired flowering shrubs due to their amazing variety of floral shapes and colours. Evergreen Azaleas have beautiful, showy flowers from late Winter to early Spring, and brilliant green foliage all year round. Azalea flowers can be bi-colour, double or single, patterned or frilled. Some varieties have very large flowers and leaves, whilst others have slim, small leaves and flowers.
There are also deciduous forms that have masses of colourful blooms, followed by lush foliage that changes colour throughout the months, until dropping their leaves in Autumn.
Grown in large pots or in the garden, Azaleas can make themselves at home in almost any garden style, and are easy to care for as they are quite self-sufficient once established.
Rhododendrons are cool climate plants (like Azaleas) and are well known for their brilliant abundance of flowers and leather-looking leaves. Rhododendron flowers come in a huge variety of colours and hues, from white to pink, red, orange, yellow, purple and mauve.
Rhododendrons range in size from small shrubs to huge trees, depending upon variety.
Rhododendrons and Azaleas thrive in semi-shade, preferably with morning sun, good drainage and slightly acidic soils. Rhododendrons and Azaleas and prefer loamy soils enriched with organic matter such as leaf mulch or compost.
Tips for buying Rhododendrons and Azaleas
Buy Rhododendrons and Azaleas in Spring when they are in bloom so as to ensure that you buy the exact colour you want.