Plant DetailShow Menu

Plum Leaf Azalea Rhododendron prunifolium

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
rho-doh-DEN-dron proo-nih-FOH-lee-um
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Plumleaf azalea is a large, woody, broadleaf evergreen or deciduous shrub in the Ericaceae (blueberry) family. It is native to Alabama and Georgia and does well in the South. Growing 8 to 12 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide, it has an erect, spreading, and open habit. The genus name derives from the Greek words rhodo, which means rose, and dendron, meaning tree.

This azalea prefers a cool, shady site, but can be grown in partial shade where it will be protected from afternoon sun. It prefers moist, well-drained, acidic soils and does not tolerate dense clay. If you have clay soil, amend with organic material, because the roots may rot if soil does not drain well. Plant the root ball high in the soil to help with drainage issues. Avoid overwatering and over-fertilizing. Pruning, if desired, may be done after flowering. 

If you have the space, grow this late summer bloomer as a specimen in a pollinator garden where it will attract bees, hummingbirds, and other pollinators. Otherwise, it does well in a naturalized or woodland area.

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 rhododendrons 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. 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:
  • 'Cherry Bomb'
  • 'Coral Glow'
  • 'Lewis Shortt'
  • 'Peach Glow'
  • 'Pine Prunifolium'
'Cherry Bomb', 'Coral Glow', 'Lewis Shortt', 'Peach Glow', 'Pine Prunifolium'
Tags:
#hummingbirds#evergreen#showy flowers#deciduous#poisonous#semi-evergreen#wildlife plant#deciduous shrub#nectar plant#specialized bees#NC native#deer browsing plant#pollinator plant#evergreen shrub#NC Native Pollinator Plant#clay soils tolerant#understory shrub#problem for cats#problem for dogs#bee friendly#problem for horses
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Cherry Bomb'
  • 'Coral Glow'
  • 'Lewis Shortt'
  • 'Peach Glow'
  • 'Pine Prunifolium'
'Cherry Bomb', 'Coral Glow', 'Lewis Shortt', 'Peach Glow', 'Pine Prunifolium'
Tags:
#hummingbirds#evergreen#showy flowers#deciduous#poisonous#semi-evergreen#wildlife plant#deciduous shrub#nectar plant#specialized bees#NC native#deer browsing plant#pollinator plant#evergreen shrub#NC Native Pollinator Plant#clay soils tolerant#understory shrub#problem for cats#problem for dogs#bee friendly#problem for horses
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Rhododendron
    Species:
    prunifolium
    Family:
    Ericaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    lower southeastern US
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers attract hummingbirds and bees. Members of the genus Rhododendron support the following specialized bee: Andrena (Andrena) cornelli.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 8 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 6 ft. 0 in. - 8 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Open
    Spreading
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Elongated capsule
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Orange
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Petals:
    6 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Terminal clusters, tubular 2 in. 5-parted, bright white, pink, orange-red to deep red flowers in late summer; not fragrant.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Alternate, simple medium green leaves
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Pollinator Garden
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Hummingbirds
    Pollinators
    Specialized Bees
    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, difficult breathing, progressive paralysis of arms and legs, coma.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Andromedotoxin
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Seeds
    Stems