Plant care and cultivation

Aazlea Bush Types - Different Kinds of Azaleas

Ulla Rothschuh Osorio
By Ulla Rothschuh Osorio, Biologist. April 23, 2024
Aazlea Bush Types - Different Kinds of Azaleas

Azaleas are small shrubs or bushes which are part of the Rhododendron genus. They are distinguished from other types of rhododendron by many differences, but one of the easiest ways to tell them apart is that azaleas have about half as many anthers in their flowers. Although there is much variety within the entire genus, even those we consider azaleas have great diversity within them. We can see them in the different azalea bush types which include the Indian azalea, royal azalea, Chinese azalea, Korean azalea, yellow azalea, smooth azalea, swamp azalea and Makino azalea, among many others. Discover 18 azalea bush types with these different kinds of azaleas with photos.

You may also be interested in: Different Types of Rosemary Plants
  1. Indian azalea
  2. Royal azalea
  3. Chinese azalea
  4. Korean Azalea
  5. Yellow azalea
  6. Smooth azalea
  7. Swamp azalea
  8. Makino azalea
  9. Other types of azalea bushes
  10. Tips on caring for azaleas
See more >>

Indian azalea

Despite the name, this type of azalea bush originates in the far east and is fairly common in Chinese gardens. The Indian azalea (Rhododendron simsii) is a semi-evergreen shrub which can grow over 6 ft (2.5 m). It produces pink and red flowers with darker points of color in the center. The leaves are oval and very broad. It produces flowers in the spring and does not well tolerate frost.

Learn more about a shrub which is both popular in gardens and can be found in abundance in the wild with our article on the different types of rosemary plants.

Aazlea Bush Types - Different Kinds of Azaleas - Indian azalea

Royal azalea

Royal azalea (Rhododendron schlippenbachii) is a shrub that can grow up to 16.5 ft (5 m) tall. Its leaves range from violet red to dark green and yellow, orange and red, depending on the season. The petals of the royal azalea are arranged almost in a spiral. They bloom in spring with pinkish or white flowers, giving off a light aroma.

We stated that azaleas tend to have fewer anthers than other types of rhododendron, but the royal azalea has double those of most other azaleas. It can be kept indoors as long as it has slightly acidic soil.

Aazlea Bush Types - Different Kinds of Azaleas - Royal azalea

Chinese azalea

Commonly known as Chinese azalea (Rhododendron molle), this type of azalea bush has leaves with villi on the obverse side. In autumn, its leaves take on different shades and present flowers in autumnal tones. These include classic shades such as orange, red and yellow.

As with all types of azalea bush, Chinese azalea is a type of angiosperm plant. Discover what this means with our article explaining the difference between angiosperm and gymnosperm plants.

Aazlea Bush Types - Different Kinds of Azaleas - Chinese azalea

Korean Azalea

Korean azalea (Rhododendron yedoense) blooms with lightly scented lilac, light pink and white flowers that appear in spring. Their leaves change color from dark green to red and orange in autumn. It is semi-evergreen and grows as a shrub to 3.2 ft (1 m) in height.

This kind of azalea bush can be grown in semi-shade like the rest of the genus, but it also tolerates full shade. This means means it can be kept indoors as a type of ornamental plant. It should always be kept away from areas where frost and snow accumulate because it is very sensitive to the cold. Similarly, it must be protected from strong wind currents.

Aazlea Bush Types - Different Kinds of Azaleas - Korean Azalea

Yellow azalea

Also known as honeysuckle azalea, yellow azalea (Rhododendron luteum) is a rare variety with bright yellow flowers, which appear in spring and early summer. Its leaves turn red, orange and purple in the fall. The growth is very abundant and reaches up to 13 ft (4 m) wide. This azalea can be grown in semi-shade, but also in full sun exposure, making it a good addition to gardens and flower beds exposed to the sun.

Bright colors such as those of the yellow azalea are known to attract pollinators. You can see what other plants attract a specific pollinator with our article on flowers that attract hummingbirds.

Aazlea Bush Types - Different Kinds of Azaleas - Yellow azalea

Smooth azalea

Also known as sweet azalea, smooth azalea (Rhododendron arborescens) is a very popular plant. It is a large bush with large and highly scented flowers. Its flowers are light lilac, light pink and white in color. They bloom in summer. Although it is technically a bush or shrub, it is often said to be a tree due to it being one of the largest types of azaleas in the world.

Aazlea Bush Types - Different Kinds of Azaleas - Smooth azalea

Swamp azalea

For such a beautiful plant, the swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum) also has the rather unglamorous common name of the clammy azalea. It is a type of medium-sized azalea shrub that offers very fragrant white flowers. Their blooms last from the beginning to the end of summer. It can tolerate full sun exposure, as long as the soil retains a good amount of water and does not dry out.

Discover more types of white flowers for the garden with our related guide.

Aazlea Bush Types - Different Kinds of Azaleas - Swamp azalea

Makino azalea

Another type of azalea bush which is native to Asia, the Makino rhododendron (Rhododendron makinoi) is a perennial shrub that can grow to be 8 ft (2.5 m) tall. The leaves are very narrow and elongated, with brown hairs on the front. The flowers are bell-shaped and white and pastel pink, which open in late spring.

If you like the shape of this Japanese azalea, you may want to discover some of the other types of plants with bell-shaped flowers in our related guide.

Aazlea Bush Types - Different Kinds of Azaleas - Makino azalea

Other types of azalea bushes

While we have provided information and photos of different azalea species, there are many more which can be found in gardens across the world. Some are individual species, others are cultivars of existing species. Some of these other types of azalea bushes include:

  • Southern Indica azalea (Rhododendron indica)
  • Kurume azalea (Rhododendron obtusum var. kaempferi)
  • Encore azalea (Rhododendron 'Encore')
  • Flame azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum)
  • Gumpo azalea (Rhododendron 'Gumpo')
  • Satsuki azalea (Rhododendron indicum)
  • Weston's lollipop azalea (Rhododendron 'Weston's Lollipop')
  • Delaware Valley white azalea (Rhododendron 'Delaware Valley White')
  • George L. Taber azalea (Rhododendron 'George L. Taber')
  • Formosa azalea (Rhododendron formosum)

Tips on caring for azaleas

Now you know some of the most beautiful kinds of azalea bushes you can find, you may be tempted to grow one yourself. If this is the case, you may want to learn the following tips on caring for azaleas to best ensure their survival:

  • Good ventilation: these types of plants require good ventilation. If they are indoors, it must be provided artificially, either with a light fan or by placing them near a window with a draft.
  • Moist soil: in order for them to flower generously, the soil for your azalea must be constantly moist. If you have your plant in a pot, it is recommended to put a plate under the pot to contain irrigation water.
  • Good light: they require very good lighting, although this does not mean direct sun. If they are placed under the sun's rays for extended periods, their leaves will wither. It is ideal that they remain in semi-shade.
  • Temperature: they do not tolerate cold or dryness. The azalea environment must be temperate and humid.
  • Mulch: it is recommended to put a top layer such as pine straw or wood bark to maintain soil moisture. It is placed on the surface of the pot, a few inches away from the trunk.
  • Pruning: it is recommended when the plant shows any pest or signs of disease that we prune the azalea bush. If the leaf or flower has withered, it is advisable to prune with shears. Ensure you wash the shears with diluted bleach each time you make a new cut.
  • Diseases: the most common diseases are caused by viruses and bacteria that tend to lodge in soil. This is an indirect result of the soil being waterlogged. Good drainage and mulching will always be recommended to avoid this type of damage.
  • Nutrition: azaleas primarily require iron minerals as nutrients. This is abundant in soils with a low pH such as those that are formed with clays. If the pH is very high or alkaline, iron is most likely almost absent and will cause yellowing of the leaves. Learn more about using this mineral with our article on chelated iron for plants.
  • Thawing: in very cold areas, the plant will freeze and then thaw, but this process will damage the leaves. If it is too rapid, it will split the bark of its branches. In these cases you must look for azaleas that are already adapted to cold climates.

Now that you have learned about the varieties of azalea, you can discover more about the varieties of flowering plants to keep in your home or garden with our guide to the types of carnations.

If you want to read similar articles to Aazlea Bush Types - Different Kinds of Azaleas, we recommend you visit our Plant care and cultivation category.

  • Beretta, D. (2018). Rhododendrons and azaleas - Cultivation and care. Spain: De Vecchi, Editorial, SA.
  • Galle, F. C. (1974). Azaleas. United States: Oxmoor House.
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Aazlea Bush Types - Different Kinds of Azaleas