Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Acing the Azalea

After all that lamenting about my azalea envy, I realized I do have one azalea that's thriving!  I always forget it's an azalea, though, because it doesn't really look like one.  Read on.

You see, I was intrigued by the yellow azaleas growing in a yard on the Azalea Trail in Tyler.  It was unlike any azalea I had ever seen.  In fact, I thought it was some sort of bush honeysuckle, because it looked like honeysuckle and that is how it smelled!  Fabulous scent!  I had to have it.  I tracked down the owner and asked him about this plant.

"It's a native American azalea", he said.  He even had a book on this type of azalea.   There was a supplier that had these azaleas, but they were off the beaten track.  So much so, I had never heard of this supplier, nor sure which road would lead to it.  Still, I was up for an adventure.

But first, we had to do errands.  Traveling to Athens, Texas, for some of them, we needed to stop at a hardware store.  The Ace Hardware was off the main street, so that was where we decided to go.  And, much to my delight, they had plants in the parking lot.  I decided to browse.

Can you believe it?  They had those azaleas - obviously the supplier was trying to increase its sales.  I considered getting several, but I decided I'd better stick with just one, since I don't have a good track record with azaleas.

Not only does this azalea look different, it is different.  First, it is deciduous.  Secondly, it has grown and bloomed for me (a miracle, given my azalea history!).  Everyone that sees it in bloom asks what it is.  They think it's a honeysuckle because of the scent, just like I did.

According to the Azalea Society of America, there are 17 species of native azaleas.  They have information on them all, including a quiz of identifying characteristics.  Based on that, I believe my azalea to be Rhododendron austrinum.  Commonly called Florida azalea, it is native to Florida, Georgia and Alabama.  It grows in zones 6 through 9.

This azalea withstands heat and drought better than most azaleas.  Perhaps that's why I'm having success with it!  I hope you will try one of these. You may not remember it's an azalea, but you will not be disappointed.  If you can find one.  Don't forget to check the local hardware store!


  1. What a great specimen plant, and beautiful flowers! I was just thinking today about finding a yellow or orange native azalea for an open shady spot, and this one looks like a winner! I will have to keep my eye out for it... Thanks for sharing!

  2. Lisa - I hope you find one. The link on the Azalea Society lists some vendors of native azaleas. It is unusual, and while it blooms it's intoxicating.

  3. That is amazing! I will definitely put this one on my wish list.

  4. amazing what a native plant can do....I have long given up on exotics that I have tried and failed to grow only to find a native to take its place and it is a joyful glad you found this wonderful looks gorgeous...

  5. That's a beautiful Azalea! The flower and the overall look of the plant looks different to all other Azaleas, looks exotic to me :-)

  6. Isn't it great to finally become successful with a plant that has been problematic? Yours is a beauty.

  7. That is a beautiful Azalea. Wish I could do more with them in my yard. Soil just isn't right for them.
    Goldenray Yorkies

  8. Tufa Girl - Now that I think of it, I could use a few more myself!

    Donna - Yes, natives seem to tolerate my terrible soil much, much better!

    Mark and Gaz - Just from looking, I would have never guessed it was an azalea. I think that's why I forget I have an azalea that's actually living!

    Mother Nature - Yes, though I still hope to succeed with the 'other' azaleas, too. They are both so different, I want them both! haha - I'm not hard to please, am I?

    Cher - It's always something we gardeners are frustrated about. Soil, wind, weather, sun or shade. My soil is finally - finally! - starting to get better!

  9. That's a beautiful plant. I've seen orange native azaleas in the Smokies.

    Thanks for dropping by my blog and leaving your sweet comments.

    Oh and I love your header pic. Beautiful!

  10. Susie - I bet the native azaleas in the Smokies are just gorgeous. I would love to see them in a natural setting like that. Thanks for commenting.

  11. If you didn't tell me, I would have thought that they are honeysuckle too. They certainly do not look like the usual azaleas but they are lovley.

  12. That's a beautiful azalea and I have never seen one in a garden. Although in the mountains I have have seen wild yellow varieties.

  13. I only have one azalea, Golden Lights, and it is doing terrible. Slow to grow and has not bloomed at all. I always hope "maybe this year" but I am about to give it up for a lost cause. I am afraid to get more since it has done so poorly. The mountains are always so beautiful when in bloom in the Spring.

  14. Love azaleas! On a visit to Savannah GA last month, the Town squares were overflowing with their beauty!

  15. Azalea and rhododendrums are so fab. Don't think i've ever seen one like your photo, really pretty.

  16. Autumn Belle - Even the Azalea Society says that most people think they are some sort of honeysuckle bush. The scent is fabulous!

    lifeshighway - I would love to see these in a mountain setting! How gorgeous!

    Lona - join the "I can't grow azaleas" club! This is the only one that has worked for me so far.

    Jayne - I can just imagine how beautiful Savannah must be with the azaleas blooming.

    Hanni - lol :)

    Kelli - I hadn't thought about it, but I bet rhododendrums do very well in your part of the world.

  17. Holley, The native American azaleas are so much more beautiful than the other types of azaleas. And the fragrance is to die for. Carolyn

  18. Holley, Thanks for inviting me to the earth day reading project, and I accept of course! I'll look for your post... and get to mine after GBBD!

  19. GardeningBlog - the scent is a big bonus!

    Carolyn - They are so different, definitely unique. The fragrance is what won me over.

    Lisa - Great! I look forward to it.

  20. Hi Holly,
    Thanks for the warm welcome! I enjoyed your azalea entries. They do put on an awesome show in springtime. Take care, Mary Gnome

  21. Mary - Since moving to Dallas, I'm certain you've seen this spring how popular they are around here. They are really beautiful blooming in mass.


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