- Common Name(s):
- Hoary azalea, Mountain azalea, Piedmont azalea, Pinxter flower
- Varnado, Varnado Pink
- Native Plants, Poisonous Plants, Shrubs
Rhododendron canescens, commonly called mountain azalea, Piedmont azalea, hoary azalea or Florida pinkster, is a large deciduous shrub that is native to moist woods, swamp margins and along streams from North Carolina to Florida west to Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas. It typically grows to 6-8’ tall in cultivation, but less frequently may grow to 10-15’ tall. Its bark is gray to reddish/brown and finely shredded.
This plant is some times stoloniferous (spread by runners).
Regions: Coastal plains
Seasons of Interest:
Leaf: Fall Blooms: Early spring/spring Nut/Fruit/Seed: Fall
Wildlife Value: This plant is frequently damaged by deer. Its flowers attract hummingbirds, bees, and swllowtail butterflies.
Members of the genus Rhododendron support the following specialized bee: Andrena (Andrena) cornelli.
Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Rhododendrons are susceptible to insect and disease problems. Insect problems include aphids, borers, lacebugs, leafhoppers, mealybugs, mites, nematodes, scale, thrips and whitefly. Diseases include canker, crown rot, root rot, leaf spot, rust, and powdery mildew. Full sun can scortch the leaves and the roots rot if soil does not drain well. A healthy plant in the right place with proper maintenance should have few problems.
- 6-15 ft.
- The Piedmont azalea has obovate to elliptic, dull green leaves (to 3” long) which are gray-pubescent (canescent) beneath. The leaves, which are alternate and simple with a finely toothed margin, have rusty red fall color.
- The Piedmont azalea features clusters (5-9 flowers per cluster) of fragrant, funnel-shaped, pink (infrequently white) flowers (1-2” long) in early spring as the foliage begins to emerge. Pistil and stamens of each flower protrude well beyond the corolla in an upward arch. It has a delicate sweet fragrance. The flowers give way to woody capsules (to 1/2” long).
- 5 to 9
- The Piedmont azalea is best grown in acidic, humusy, organically rich, moisture-retentive but well-drained soils in part shade. It prefers a sun dappled shade or high open part shade. Foliage may scorch in full sun. Acidify soils prior to planting and thereafter as needed. Plant in a location protected from strong winter winds. Consistent moisture is best, but soils must drain well (doesn’t like “wet feet”). Poor drainage inevitably leads to root rot, therefore raised beds/plantings should be considered in heavy clay soils. It has shallow, fibrous root systems (do not cultivate around plants) will benefit greatly from a mulch (e.g., wood chips, bark or pine needles) to help retain moisture and stabilize soil temperatures. Roots must never be allowed to dry out. Clip off spent flower clusters immediately after bloom as practicable. Slowly naturalizes by root suckers.
- Sun to partial shade; moist to damp soil
- Elongated capsule
- North Carolina to Florida west to Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas
- Poison Part:
- All parts.
- Poison Delivery Mode:
- Salivation, watering of eyes and nose, abdominal pain, loss of energy, depression, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, difficult breathing, progressive paralysis of arms and legs, coma.
- Toxic Principle:
- HIGHLY TOXIC, MAY BE FATAL IF EATEN!
- Found in:
- Houseplant or interiorscape; landscape as cultivated woody shrub; forest or natural area.
- 6-10 ft.
NCCES plant id: 532