Azaleas and Rhododendrons, with their magnificent flowers, are one of the best-loved sights of spring. 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. Evergreen or deciduous, they come in all shapes and sizes, from small, ground-hugging shrubs to large, tree-like specimens. Their flowers range from the tiny and delicate blossoms of floriferous dwarf shrubs to the huge clusters or 'trusses' of tall growing hybrids and species. Some are fragrant and others enjoy a wonderful foliage adding glorious fall color to the landscape. All are fascinating.
Azaleas and Rhododendrons are members of the genus Rhododendron, one of the largest genera in the plant world which includes over 900 species and over 20,000 named hybrids of Rhododendrons and Azaleas. Attractive landscape plants in cool and moist climates, many varieties have been struggling in New England as a result of floods, blizzards, bare-ground winters, northeasters, heat waves, cold snaps, hurricanes, and even the odd tornado.
The following is a list of Azaleas and Rhododendrons recognized as proven performers in New England. Most of them have received the Rhododendron of the Year Award of the American Rhododendron Society. To be selected for such an award, a plant must have excellent foliage and flowers, have an attractive plant habit, be pest and disease resistant and be cold hardy for the region.