Verdant Gardens Nursery

Specializing in Native Azaleas


Characteristics and Care of Native Azaleas

Characteristics of Native Azaleas

Okay, everyone knows what an Azalea is, right? 
Well, when most of us hear the word, azalea, the plant that comes to mind is entirely different from a "Native Azalea".  Most Azaleas planted as flowering shrubs in the Eastern, United States are evergreen Azalea's that were originally imported from Asia many years ago.
So what exactly is a Native Azalea?  It is a Rhododendron.  It is also deciduous, which is a fancy way to say it drops it's leaves in the winter.    There are 16 species that range from Eastern Canada, down the Eastern Seaboard and throughout the Southeast and Gulf Coast of the United States.   Among those species are many different varieties and hybrids. Most of the Native Azaleas that we sell would do well in zones 7-9a.
Many people commonly refer to Native Azaleas as a "Bush Honeysuckle," however, they are unrelated to the true Honeysuckle vine and the blooms are NOT edible.  In fact ALL Azaleas are poisonous.  
The blooms of Native Azaleas are strikingly beautiful and many varieties bloom in the Spring prior to putting on their green foliage and are therefore a mass of bright color.  The many varieties represent a wide color range, including pinks, oranges, reds and yellows.  They vary in flower sizes and many are fragrant as well.  Some even exhibit beautiful fall foliage before their leaves drop.  
Native Azaleas are a wonderful landscaping plant, especially in a natural setting or as an accent shrub.

Care of Native Azaleas
  • Plant in an area of full to partial sun with very good drainage.
  • Enrich ground with a mixture of organic compost and fine pine bark.
  • Do not plant deeply, the top of the root ball should be even with the ground and not covered up.  Treat tender roots of the Azalea with great care.
  • Water in very well.
Continuing Care: 

  • Water daily the first year, until well established.  Water regularly thereafter.
  • Do not fertilize at all the first year.  Azalea roots are very tender and too much fertilizer can kill a young plant.
  • After the plant is well established you may choose to lightly fertilize.

*All pictures and written descriptions on this website are for information purposes only and are intended only as general guidelines.  They are not intended to guarantee that an individual plant will exhibit these precise characteristics or that it will thrive.