Japanese Azaleas

Japanese Azalea is the common name for evergreen to semievergreen rhododendrons, known generically as Rhododendron japonicum. Most are complex hybrids or species from Japan such as Kyushu azalea (R. kiusianum), Torch azalea (R. kaempferi), Kurume azalea (R. obtusum x kiusianum), and Kirishima azalea (R. obtusum), among others. These have been bred for over 500 years and with thousands of cultivars available, it can be a difficult decision to choose just one for your garden. So, here a is a quick overview of some of the varieties that can be found locally, followed by some cultural advice.

‘Ben Morrison’ (Zone 7 / 4’ tall)

Azalea ‘Ben Morrison’
‘Ben Morrison’

Spectacular bicolour blooms of salmon-pink generously edged in white make this hard-to-find cultivar worth looking for.

‘Blaauw’s Pink’ (Zone 6 / 3-4’ tall)

Azalea ‘Blaauw’s Pink’
‘Blaauw’s Pink’

Lightly fragrant coral-pink flowers with a hose-in-hose form are very popular with local gardeners.

‘Blue Danube’ (Zone 5 / 4’ tall)

Azalea ‘Blue Danube’
‘Blue Danube’

An older cultivar with unusual magenta-violet trumpet flowers accented with darker purple spotting. Good plant vigour.

‘Elsie Lee’ (Zone 5 / 3-4’ tall)

Azalea ‘Elsie Lee’
‘Elsie Lee’

This ‘Desiree’ x ‘Rosebud’ hybrid features showy lavender-pink semidouble blooms, usually in May.

‘Gaiety’ (Zone 6 / 3’ tall)

Azalea ‘Gaiety’