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Azaleas and Rhododendrons with Attractive Fall Colors

Deciduous Azaleas, Evergreen Azaleas, Lepidote Rhododendrons, Elepidote Rhododendrons

Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Deciduous Azaleas, Fall Foliage, Fall Colors, Evergreen Azaleas, Hardy Rhododendron

Azaleas and Rhododendrons, with their voluptuous flowers, are one of the best-loved sights of spring. But did you know that some of them also experience a fabulous second season of interest in the fall when their foliage turns brilliant shades of gold, scarlet, or burgundy? 

Rhododendrons are usually evergreen and keep their leaves throughout the winter. However, Azaleas, which belong to the same genus Rhododendron, are often deciduous and naturally provide the best fall color. These color changes may be richly varied. Depending on the Azalea varieties, they may start with bronze or chartreuse tones before continuing through various shades of gold, orange, scarlet, red, and burgundy. Many plants pass through nearly all of these color phases, injecting vibrant sparkles into the fall garden. Please note that the foliage color on Azaleas depends on the amount of moisture in summer and the coolness of late summer and early fall nights. 

To obtain a brilliant fall display, there are many species and hybrids to pick from. The following is a list of Azaleas and Rhododendrons with staggering blossoms, unusual charm in terms of fall color, and reliable performance. Most of them have been recognized as proven performers and have received the Rhododendron of the Year Award of the American Rhododendron Society and/or the prestigious Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society. Some are delightfully fragrant, others are incredibly hardy and can withstand temperatures are low as -25°F (-32°C).

Hopefully, this list will be of assistance to those wishing to add glorious fall color to their plantings!

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 9
Plant Type Shrubs
Genus Rhododendron
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early)
Fall
Height
Spread
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Plant of Merit, Showy
Tolerance Rabbit
Attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Hedges And Screens, Beds And Borders, Banks And Slopes
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Traditional Garden

Azaleas and Rhododendrons with Attractive Fall Colors

Remember that the ability to grow Azaleas and Rhododendrons successfully depends also on the site selection and soil preparation.

  • Their soil should be acidic, organic, moist, fertile and well-drained. 
  • Choose a site with dappled shade in sheltered conditions. Avoid deep shade beneath other trees. Most Rhododendrons will tolerate a more open site if sheltered from cold, dry winds. Dwarf alpine species will tolerate full sun provided the soil is kept evenly moist. 
  • Many Azaleas and Rhododendrons are fully cold hardy, however a few of them have frost-resistant flowers. Any flowers blooming before the last spring frost are susceptible to damage. Since the frost damage is generally caused when the early morning sun strikes the plants' frozen tissues, you should site your Azalea or Rhododendron where both leaves and flowers are protected from the early morning sun, and where they will adapt slowly to the increasing temperatures of the day. Since frost flows downward, avoid planting them in low-lying spots known to be frost pockets.
  • When placing plants, always choose locations that mitigate extreme temperature changes, especially in spring and fall, and provide protection from drying summer or winter winds. Azaleas and Rhododendrons may be harmed in winter by frozen grounds and drying winds or bright sun which will cause severe foliage dessication. Protect their shallow roots with a mulch of oak leaves or pine needles and their foliage with woven material such as burlap screens. This will help in preventing bark-split (when the sap running in the stem is frozen and burst the bark). 
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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 3 - 9
Plant Type Shrubs
Genus Rhododendron
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early)
Fall
Height
Spread
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Fragrant, Plant of Merit, Showy
Tolerance Rabbit
Attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Hedges And Screens, Beds And Borders, Banks And Slopes
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Traditional Garden
Compare All Rhododendron
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Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Rhododendron
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Rhododendron

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