Deciduous Azaleas

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

The only difference between deciduous azaleas and the more popular rhododendron is the number of stamens (5 versus 10) and the fact that the former sheds its leaves in fall. Botanically, both are technically rhododendrons, and yet every spring I watch the spectacle of gardeners enthusiastically combing through the rhododendron beds while totally ignoring the nearby deciduous azaleas. And yet if those same people were to envision the vibrant orange, yellow and pink blossoms yet to come, often coupled with enticing fragrance, then I’m quite sure that the opposite would be true. So here is a description of some of the better cultivars and species of deciduous azaleas, keeping in mind that they can be hard to find at times.


Azalea 'Arneson Gem'
Azalea 'Arneson Gem'

‘Arneson Gem’ (Exbury)


A fragrant hybrid with vivid red buds that open to golden-yellow blooms with apricot-orange margins, held in a full truss of 10-15 flowers. Grows 3-5’ tall, blooms mid-April into May, and has reddish-orange autumn foliage. Zone 5.









Azalea 'Strawberry Ice'
Azalea 'Strawberry Ice'

‘Strawberry Ice’ (Knaphill)


This showy cultivar bears large peachy-pink blooms accented with a yellow blotch. It grows 4-6’ tall and flowers from May into June with very large trusses. Zone 5.













Azalea ‘Homebush’
Azalea ‘Homebush’

‘Homebush’ (Knaphill)


The semi-double rose-pink blossoms form a distinctly spherical truss that is easily recognized at a distance. It is also an Award of Garden Merit winner, mildew resistant, and emanates a sweet fragrance on warm days. Begins blooming in late May and grows 4-6’ tall. Zone 5.











Azalea ‘Northern Hi-Lights’
Azalea ‘Northern Hi-Lights’

‘Northern Hi-Lights’ (Northern Lights Series)


This group of azaleas was bred in Minnesota for cold hardiness with this particular cultivar bearing abundant creamy-white blooms accented with a bright yellow blotch. The fragrant flowers are followed by burgundy-red autumn foliage on this vigorous, mildew-resistant variety that grows 4-5’ tall. Zone 3.










Azalea 'Gibraltar'