Azaleas are vibrant flowers known for their magnificent blooms. These flowers come in two primary varieties – deciduous and evergreen – out of which evergreen azaleas are commonly planted in residential areas.
These funnel-shaped flowers thrive in areas with semi-shade and come in an abundance of sub-varieties. Another striking feature of these flowers is their ability to attract pollinators through their sweet nectar.
Fortunately, these flowers aren’t particularly tough to grow and have two basic requirements- acidic soil and partial shade. The overwhelming varieties of azaleas might make it challenging for you to decide which one to plant. To help you and other DIY gardeners, we have curated a list of 15 types of azaleas that will complement different types of gardens, backyard landscapes, and even indoor gardens.
1. Sweet Azalea
Sweet azalea is a loosely branched shrub that grows fragrant white flowers. It is around 8-12 feet in height and has an equal spread. These flowers are highly adaptable and can grow on high mountains or near low-lying streams.
Partial shade is preferred by these flowers unless the soil is kept uniformly moist under full sun. The best soil type to use for these flowers is clay-based, with good drainage properties.
The pistils of these flowers are red, which enhances their beauty against the white petals. Even the bright green foliage gives the plant a two-tone colouration, making it an attractive flower to grow.
During the fall, the bright green foliage turns into magnificent shades of yellow, bronze, orange, and red. Use these flowers as shrub borders, mixed borders, or plant them in woodland gardens, native plant gardens, or open shade gardens for the best utility.
2. Royal Azalea
The attractive blooms of the deciduous royal azalea are light to rosy pink or white. You will observe the flowers blossom slightly ahead of or concurrently with the green foliage.
These flowers are mottled with dark pink, while the leaves are light green on the undersides. The leaves are alternately oriented yet clustered at the terminals of branches to form lovely whorls. Furthermore, the leaves turn gold, orange, and crimson in the fall, giving late-season beauty to the garden or yard.
Many DIY gardeners use the royal azalea for interior scaping (landscaping an indoor space). One primary reason for this is that royal azaleas do not need direct sunlight. Additionally, you can cultivate these flowers as woody shrubs for outdoor landscaping too.
Caution: Anyone who has small kids or even pets at their home is advised against planting this flower. The royal azalea has high severity poisoning characteristics and can be fatal if ingested.
3. Pink-Shell Azaleas
Pink-shell azaleas are among the most unique types of azaleas. That’s because they are the first spring-flowering native azaleas to bloom before the foliage begins to grow. These blooms are in the form of beautiful, light pink, bell-shaped flowers clinging to bare branches.
Another unique feature of this plant is the structure of the flowers. Almost all azaleas have a tube as part of their flower anatomy, but pink-shell azaleas do not. Due to the lack of these tubes, the petals of the flower seem almost separate from each other. This makes a tremendous difference in the appearance of the flower.
Due to its uniqueness, this species is rare even globally. Plant it in your yard or as a border shrub with fetterbush to have distinctive-looking flowers for a more enticing setup.
4. Mollis Hybrids
Look no further than the Mollis hybrid when making additions to your flower beds, cottage gardens, foundation plantings, shrub borders, and zen gardens. These flowers look better than almost any other types of azaleas when mass planted.
The clusters of vividly coloured and delicately crumpled flowers bloom around late spring to early summer. While in fall, the light green foliage turns into breath-taking shades of gold, orange, purple and scarlet.
This deciduous azalea is more forgiving of soil conditions, yet it likes well-drained, acidic soil (get a soil testing kit to check what type of soil you have). Although azaleas have a long list of insect and disease concerns, these are typically trouble-free if adequately cared for.
5. Bloom-A-Thon Azaleas
Everyone loves to see their favourite bush blooming more than just once a year. However, most flowers just bloom for around 3-4 weeks. But, bloom-a-thon azaleas are different. As the name suggests, these flowers rebloom. To elaborate, the first set of flowers appear around early to mid-spring, and this process is repeated in early summer up until frost.
To add to the 5-month blooming period, even the foliage of this plant is semi-evergreen. It means that the plants will maintain foliage at the tip of branches even during the winter. Moreover, this foliage is disease-resistant and maintains a vibrant colour tone all year round.
Bloom-a-thon azaleas can be found in four colours- red, white, lavender, and pink. They thrive in mild shade, with enough moisture and nutritious, well-drained modified soil.
During summer, partial sun to dappled shade is good since it prevents blossom burn. Despite the number of huge blossoms, the plants are self-cleaning and disease resistant. Moreover, bloom-a-thons look great in borders and clusters, and the smaller types are ideal for container gardening.
6. Girard’s Hot-Shot
Girard’s hot-shot is a low-growing plant that blooms in mid-spring. Best grown in moist and well-drained soil, this plant needs partial sunlight and protection from strong winds. It is an evergreen azalea with bright and vivid reddish-orange flowers.
The plant can grow up to a height of 2-3 ft tall and around 3-4 ft wide. You don’t have to spend a lot of time maintaining this plant. However, you should prune (check out these reviews for choosing the right pruning shear) it once the flowering season is over.
These bright-coloured flowers are rich in nectar and attract a great number of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Like most types of azaleas, this hardy plant will thrive when grown as a shrub border, foundation plant, or low hedge.
7. Northern Hi-Lights
These flowers are a beautiful whitish-cream to light yellow colour and have stunning yellow streaks. If you live somewhere that gets at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight, northern hi-lights might be an excellent option to plant.
This cold-resistant plant needs well-drained acidic soil and protection against strong winds. It will even do well in soil with moderate moisture. But, you should ensure that the soil never dries out completely.
Add this 4-6 ft plant as a border for your garden or patio for an eye-catching look.
8. Lemon Lights Azalea
The lemon lights azalea is a part of the northern light group of azaleas. These hardy deciduous plants can survive temperatures as low as -30 degrees F, making them favourable plants for people living in colder areas.
Similar to pink-shelled azaleas, even these flowers start to bloom in spring before the foliage appears. These trumpet-shaped flowers grow in clusters on bare branches. Also, they have a magnificent yellow colour while the end of the petals turn a slightly darker shade and are lightly scented.
As opposed to other types of azaleas, these can grow taller, often reaching up to 5-6 ft. As for the spread, they remain narrower, at about 4 ft. Remember to prune this shrub to shape it only after the flowering period is over. Other than that, this plant can take good care of itself if grown in a suitable location.
9. Swamp Azalea
Also known by the name of “clammy azalea”, this plant is a wetland shrub and grows best in moist, fertile, and humus-rich acidic soil. Since these flowers are native to the swampy areas, they can tolerate periodic flooding and are resistant to root rots.
Unlike most flowers with a sweet, floral scent, the swamp azalea gives off a spicy, sweet fragrance. They bloom in May, much later than native azaleas and can remain in blossom up until mid-summer. During the fall, the foliage bursts into beautiful shades of orange and maroon, adding colour to your garden.
This plant thrives in moist soil close to stationary or moving water. Another tip is to plant these with earlier blooming azaleas to extend the annual azalea blooming period.
10. Girard’s Variegated Gem
These hardy shrubs grow clusters of bright pink flowers that start blooming in mid-spring. Following this, the plant bears green foliage with cream variegation in summer, hence its name. Finally, the leaves of this plant turn red in the fall. To summarise, this one plant will give you bursts of three different colours throughout a year, adding vibrance to your garden.
It does best in partial sunlight and well-drained but moist, organically fertilized soil. The plant grows rather slowly but can live for more than 40 years if planted in a suitable condition. Remember, mulching around the base is essential to retain the moisture of soil and help the plant grow well.
It can grow up to a height of about 4-5 ft and has a spread of around 5 ft. You can mass plant it in your garden as a hedge or as a singular plant to accentuate its beauty.
11. Autumn Amethyst
Everyone fond of purple colour will love this shrub. In the spring, this small treasure blooms in a cloud of 2-inch solitary lavender blossoms that every purple addict would want in their yard. Then, after a little break, it blooms intermittently throughout the summer and fall. But that’s not all, it’s cloaked in evergreen leaves through winter, which develops a beautiful bronzy-purple hue when the temperatures drop.
Place it near a window or along a path, either alone or in a cluster, to take advantage of its all-season appeal. Its dwarf stature and cold resistance make it one of the best azaleas for containers.
Autumn amethyst may be grown in full sun or partial shade, and its gentle hue blends beautifully with other plants in part sun or dappled shade. Plant it with white flowers to bring out the purple hue of the plant. You can even combine it with spring-blooming peonies, iris, daffodils, and other types of azaleas for a brighter look.
12. Formosa Azalea
Owing to its vibrant colours, form, and ability to attract hummingbirds, Formosa azalea blossoms are hard to top. In the spring, the pinkish-lavender blooms open to show a deeper core of colour. The vibrant hue contrasts with the rich green and delicate foliage.
As the shrub matures, the 8-foot tall azalea is finally covered with huge, deep pink-purple blooms. These flowers are ideal for an Asian-inspired garden or alongside a water feature.
Even after the blooms fade, the foliage of the Formosa azalea remains on the plant throughout winter. The large shrub makes a great winter colour and privacy screen addition to the garden. And even though it grows tall, you may cut it down to as little as 4 feet for screening purposes. When multiple Formosa azaleas are planted together, they produce a spring colour explosion as well as an abundance of wintergreen.
13. Girard’s Rose
Similar to many other types of azaleas, Girard’s Rose is a multi-stemmed shrub. It grows over time in a manner such that the spread matches the height. Although, this evergreen cultivar of azaleas seldom grows more than 3 ft.
It has a relatively coarse texture making it stand apart from other landscape plants that have finer foliage. A few recommended garden applications for this plant are:
- Mass planting
- Regular garden use
This plant is fussy about soil conditions and must have rich, acidic soil to thrive. It is tolerant of urban pollutants to some extent and will benefit from being planted in a shaded place. In exposed sites or colder microclimates, consider putting a thick mulch around the root zone in the winter to protect it.
14. Conversation Piece Azalea
These flowers are among the few spectacular types of azaleas that bloom twice a year and will cover the entire shrub when in bloom. The blooms appear in striking colours of red, pink, and white, all three colours being showcased on the same shrub.
This Azalea is stunning when it’s alone, in groups, or as a background for other flowering plants in your garden. When planted near evergreens, it brings them to life, and it will brighten up a semi-shady spot like no other shrub. Even better, it is highly adaptable and may even be planted in a container for use on a patio or anywhere else when the essence of colour is needed.
It takes little effort to maintain this plant, and it can easily endure cold snaps, which most other azaleas will not.
These deciduous azaleas are cold-resistant and low-maintenance plants. They do well in full sun as well as partial sun and like most azaleas, need acidic soil. Keep in mind, mulching around the base is a requirement when it comes to this plant.
The bright orange-red flowers and reddish-brown leaves this plant bears add vitality and colour to your garden. This plant does well when used in landscaping or even when planted in containers. Considering to wait for fall to see the plant burst into magnificent shades of deep bronze would be a wise call.
Pair this hardy plant with dense bushes or use it around cottage gardens. You can even consider mass planting fireball azaleas if you have a larger-sized garden.
If one plant does justice to its fanciful description, it’s azalea. There are over 10,000 different types of azaleas, each carrying its unique traits. Whether you are looking for a seasonal plant, an evergreen shrub, or one that blooms twice a year, azaleas are the solution for all.
These flowers are low-maintenance and grow well, provided you plant them in a favourable location. Azaleas are a great way to add colour to your garden. And choosing from this list of 15 of our favourite varieties will be a choice you won’t regret!
Bonus Tip: If you are a beginner gardener, check out this list of 57 must-have tools for gardening.