Azalea Varieties for the Flower Garden

Azalea Blooms
Photo © Jamie McIntosh
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    Choose Azalea Varieties for the Flower Garden

    Red Azalea
    shene/Moment Open/Getty Images

    In many parts of the United States, especially the Southeast, it just wouldn’t be springtime without azaleas. Old and established neighborhoods are exceptionally hospitable to growing azaleas, as their mature trees provide the dappled shade and leaf litter that azaleas appreciate. ​Bumblebees are in heaven as they adore azalea blossoms. Recognizing the broad appeal of this perennial shrub, breeders continue to add more fragrance, cold tolerance, and color combinations to the azalea family. If you thought you couldn't grow them well in your zone, check out these varieties.

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    Northern Hi-Lights

    Azalea Northern Hi-Lites
    Photo © Elsa Blaine

    Two-toned azalea blossoms make for very showy blooms in the flower garden. Don’t let the dainty appearance of these flowers fool you; this vigorous shrub is hardy in minus 40 degrees weather. To ensure the max number of these buttery popcorn-toned blooms, plant your azalea where it will receive at least four hours of sun

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    Encore Series

    Azalea Encore Autumn Amethyst
    Photo © Drew Avery

    Forget about the azaleas of your childhood, which put on a brilliant spring display and then sat quietly in the green background for the rest of the year. Reblooming azaleas, like those of the "Encore Autumn Amethyst," produces blooms on new growth periodically throughout the growing season. Over 31 varieties of Encore azaleas mean you can find a hue to complement your landscape, whether you're partial to a hot color palette with red and orange blooms, a cool palette with pink and purple blossoms, or neutral white flowers. There are even Encore azaleas with bicolor blooms in streaks, freckles, or picotee patterns.

    The compact varieties of reblooming azaleas, like Encore "Autumn Coral," also make excellent container specimens that you can move to the front of the garden when blooms are at their peak. Gardeners in growing zones 6 or warmer can also plant the reblooming "Bloom-A-Thon" series azaleas.

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    Lemon Lights

    Azalea Lemon Lights
    Photo © Tom Brandt

    Why don’t more gardeners plant the outstanding yellow azalea varieties on the market today? In addition to the fragrant "Lemon Lights" cultivar, gardeners can choose from yellow types like "George Reynolds," " Cheerful Giant," and "Arneson Golden Solitare."

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    Hot Shot

    Azalea Girard 'Hot Shot'
    Photo © Jamie McIntosh

    You should reserve a place of honor for this vivid azalea in your landscape. Like the other hybrids in the Girard series, "Hot Shot" is a low-growing azalea (24 to 30 inches) you can place in the middle of the border. "Hot Shot" is an evergreen azalea, which makes it more susceptible to winter weather damage than deciduous types. Shrubs are hardy to zone 5 but appreciate a sheltered position away from wind and low-lying troughs that trap late freezes, which kill buds.

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    Variegated Gem

    Azalea Girard Variegated Gem
    Photo: Jamie McIntosh

    Girard’s "Variegated Gem" is an azalea for gardeners who demand three seasons of interest from their azaleas. This hardy shrub will grace your garden with bright rose spring flowers, white-edged summer foliage, and red leaves in the fall.

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    Azalea Fireball
    Photo © Jamie McIntosh

    The Exbury hybrids like "Fireball" are good azaleas for beginners. Like other deciduous azaleas, they exhibit good cold tolerance and flower freely in the spring. The upright growth habit of "Fireball" will ensure that the bright blossoms won’t get lost among your spring flowering bulbs.

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  • 08 of 12


    Azalea Fashion
    Photo © Jamie McIntosh

    The showy coral blooms of this Girard hybrid may attract the first hummingbird visitors of the season to your garden. A partially shady location with acidic soil will keep this evergreen shrub happy for many years.

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  • 09 of 12

    Mandarin Lights

    Azalea Mandarin Lights
    Photo © Jamie McIntosh

    Even if you live in the frigid reaches of USDA growing zone 3, the ruffled rust-colored blooms of "Mandarin Lights" will positively glow in the dappled shade of your landscape. Early blooms precede foliage on this deciduous variety. The sweet fragrance of the flowers is a bonus.

    This variety grows up to five feet tall and looks stunning when planted in a group in a woodland garden. These azaleas prefer evenly moist soil enriched with well-composted leaves or manure to increase acidity.

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    Hardijzer's Beauty

    Azaleodendron Hardijzer's Beauty
    Photo: flickr user KaCey97007

    As the name implies, azaleodendrons are a cross between azaleas and rhododendrons. Some are evergreen, while deciduous varieties lose their leaves. "Hardijzer's Beauty" developed by the Dutch breeder W.H. Hardijzer in 1965, features many clusters of small magenta blooms on 3-foot compact shrubs. Another azeleodendron worth trying in the garden is the stunning "Glory of Littleworth," with its two-tone white and orange blossoms.

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    Azalea Snow
    Photo © Drew Avery

    This hardy semi-dwarf azalea produces loads of crystal white blooms against a backdrop of gumdrop green leaves. The appearance is at once peaceful and invigorating in your partially sunny, zone 6 through 9 flower garden.

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    Azalea Poukhanense
    Photo © Jamie McIntosh

    The semievergreen "Poukhanense" azalea is one of the ​hardiest you can buy. Because the shrub blooms before the foliage has fully emerged, you get a very dense floral appearance in the early spring. Named after Mount Poukan in Korea, this slow grower tends to grow outwards rather than upwards.