Preferring cooler summers and dappled shade, rhododendrons are a popular flowering evergreen shrub common to many New England landscapes, woodland gardens, and colder climates. Rhododendron are often one of the first plants to bloom in the spring and early summer when other flowering plants are only just starting to wake up from winter dormancy. Since they are evergreen, their lush waxy foliage also provides year-round interest, and makes the shrub a popular choice as a border or foundation planting.
Azaleas make up a subset of the Rhododendron family, but are not to be confused with their larger, more cold-hardy cousins. Some Azalea are only semi-evergreen, have smaller flower heads, and are generally less cold-hardy (but this varies by cultivar).
Rhododendrons need well-drained soil and protection from drying winds in the winter. They are a popular coastal plant because their waxy leaves provide some protection from salty conditions. In warmer climates, rhododendrons should only be grown in shady or northern exposure. In colder climates, rhododendron may withstand southern or western exposure, but partial shade is recommended. Rhododendrons are not a drought-tolerant shrub.
Type: Evergreen Flowering Shrub
Hardiness Zone: 4-9
Exposure: Partial Shade
Size: 2 Ft - 8 Ft Wide, 2 Ft - 10 Ft Tall (Sizes vary based on individual cultivar)
Growth Habit: Mounded
Color: Dark Green Foliage, Flower Colors Vary by Cultivar
Soil: Prefers acidic, well-drained soil, high in organic matter
Noteable Features: Large showy flower clusters, waxy evergreen foliage