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Rhododendron austrinum

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
rho-doh-DEN-dron aw-STRIH-num
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Florida azalea is an erect, woody, deciduous shrub in the Ericaceae (blueberry) family that will grow 8 to 10 feet tall and wide. It is native to the lower southeastern United States, which does not include North Carolina. The genus named derives from the Greek words rhodo, which means rose, and dendron, meaning tree. 

Give this plant partial shade in moist, well-drained, acidic soil and protect it from afternoon sun, which can scorch the leaves. It does not tolerate dense clay, so if you have clay soil, amend with organic material. It will reward you with fragrant flowers plus drought tolerance once established.  

The flowers of Florida azalea attract hummingbirds and bees, so place it in a woodland or naturalized area. It may also be grown as a houseplant

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Insect problems include aphids, borers, lace bugs, leafhoppers, mealybugs, mites, nematodes, scale, thrips, and whitefly.  Diseases include canker, crown rot, root rot, leaf spot, rust, and powdery mildew. This plant is frequently damaged by deer.

While these shrubs remain very popular for landscape use, many cultivars are susceptible to Phytophthora root rot—this leads to leaf loss, reduced vigor, branch dieback, and wilting. Implement good cultural practices first, such as improving drainage with organic matter or berms and avoiding overwatering or overfertilization.  However, if you have a site with a history of this disease, consider planting one of the root rot-resistant alternative species.  

For suitable alternatives, see this video created by Charlotte Glen as part of the Plants, Pests, and Pathogens series.

 

VIDEO Created by Elizabeth Meyer for "Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

More information on Rhododendron.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Don's Variegated'
  • 'Firecracker'
  • 'Lisa's Gold'
'Don's Variegated', 'Firecracker', 'Lisa's Gold'
Tags:
#fragrant#hummingbirds#evergreen#showy flowers#deciduous#poisonous#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#deciduous shrub#nectar plant#native bees#low maintenance#specialized bees#problem for cats#problem for dogs#bee friendly#problem for horses
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Don's Variegated'
  • 'Firecracker'
  • 'Lisa's Gold'
'Don's Variegated', 'Firecracker', 'Lisa's Gold'
Tags:
#fragrant#hummingbirds#evergreen#showy flowers#deciduous#poisonous#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#deciduous shrub#nectar plant#native bees#low maintenance#specialized bees#problem for cats#problem for dogs#bee friendly#problem for horses
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Rhododendron
    Species:
    austrinum
    Family:
    Ericaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    lower southeastern US
    Wildlife Value:
    Members of the genus Rhododendron support the following specialized bee: Andrena (Andrena) cornelli.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 8 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 8 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Elongated capsule
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Funnel
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Description:
    Clear yellow, cream, gold-orange to almost red flowers in spring before leaves emerge
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Orange
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Alternate, simple dark green leaves; yellow to bronze-orange fall color
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Houseplants
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Design Feature:
    Small groups
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Hummingbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    Salivation, watering of eyes and nose, abdominal pain, loss of energy, depression, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, cardiac failure, difficult breathing, progressive paralysis of arms and legs, coma.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Andromedotoxin, Grayantoxin
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Seeds
    Stems