Alphabetical Plant Listing

Azaleas and Rhododendrons: What is the Difference?

Deciduous Azaleas, Evergreen Azaleas, Lepidote Rhododendrons, Elepidote Rhododendrons


Producing a blaze of color from early spring through the summer, and even into the fall, Azaleas and Rhododendrons are popular ornamental shrubs for gardens of all sizes. But what is the difference between Azaleas and Rhododendrons?

Once classified in separate plant groups, Azaleas and Rhododendrons are now placed together in the genus Rhododendron because of their many common characteristics. Gardeners and nurseries continue, however, to make the distinction, referring to each by their common name. The 2 groups can be distinguished on the basis of a few physical features.

Azaleas

  • May be deciduous or evergreen
  • Leaves tend to be thin and soft, often hairy
  • Leaves never have scales
  • Flowers typically have 5 or 6 stamens
  • Evergreen Azaleas generally have 1 to 3 flowers at the end of each stem
  • Many small stems

     

    Deciduous Azaleas, Evergreen Azaleas, Lepidote Rhododendrons, Elepidote Rhododendrons, Rhododendrons, Evergreen Shrubs, Flowering ShrubsAzalea 'Alice de Stuers' Deciduous Azaleas, Evergreen Azaleas, Lepidote Rhododendrons, Elepidote Rhododendrons, Rhododendrons, Evergreen Shrubs, Flowering ShrubsAzalea 'Cezanne' Deciduous Azaleas, Evergreen Azaleas, Lepidote Rhododendrons, Elepidote Rhododendrons, Rhododendrons, Evergreen Shrubs, Flowering ShrubsAzalea 'Mary Hitchcock'

Rhododendrons

  • Usually evergreen, sometimes deciduous
  • Evergreen species have large, thick, leathery leaves
  • Some species may have small dots, called scales, on the undersides of their leaves
  • Flowers typically have 10 or more stamens
  • Flowers are often grouped in large clusters called "trusses"
  • Fewer, stout stems
Deciduous Azaleas, Evergreen Azaleas, Lepidote Rhododendrons, Elepidote Rhododendrons, Rhododendrons, Evergreen Shrubs, Flowering Shrubs Rhododendron 'Accomac' Deciduous Azaleas, Evergreen Azaleas, Lepidote Rhododendrons, Elepidote Rhododendrons, Rhododendrons, Evergreen Shrubs, Flowering Shrubs Rhododendron 'Janet Blair' Deciduous Azaleas, Evergreen Azaleas, Lepidote Rhododendrons, Elepidote Rhododendrons, Rhododendrons, Evergreen Shrubs, Flowering Shrubs Rhododendron occidentale

Guide Information

Hardiness 4 - 10
Plant Type Shrubs
Plant Family Azaleas - Rhododendrons, Rhododendrons - Azaleas
Exposure Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Tolerance Rabbit
Attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Banks and Slopes, Beds and Borders, Hedges and Screens, Patio and Containers, Wall-Side Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Japanese Garden, Traditional Garden
Compare All Azaleas - Rhododendrons Compare All Rhododendrons - Azaleas Great Plant Combination Ideas with Azaleas - Rhododendrons Great Plant Combination Ideas with Rhododendrons - Azaleas Guides with Azaleas - Rhododendrons Guides with Rhododendrons - Azaleas

Top picture is courtesy of the Willow Garden

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 4 - 10
Plant Type Shrubs
Plant Family Azaleas - Rhododendrons, Rhododendrons - Azaleas
Exposure Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Tolerance Rabbit
Attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Banks and Slopes, Beds and Borders, Hedges and Screens, Patio and Containers, Wall-Side Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Japanese Garden, Traditional Garden
Compare All Azaleas - Rhododendrons Compare All Rhododendrons - Azaleas Great Plant Combination Ideas with Azaleas - Rhododendrons Great Plant Combination Ideas with Rhododendrons - Azaleas Guides with Azaleas - Rhododendrons Guides with Rhododendrons - Azaleas

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