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Rhododendrons bloom spring beauty

Common Name : Rhododendrons and azaleas

Science-y Name : Rhododendron.

There are so many varieties and species of rhododendron shrubs, which include azalea, that to suggest one common binomial doesn’t do the rhododendron family justice. If you use rhododendron people are going to know what you are talking about. BTW, a binomial is the genus and species classifications where a plant is given two names, like Berberis thunbergii.

A Few Varieties : R. macrophyllum (large leaf rhododendron), R. rhododendron (small leaf rhododendron)

Native or Non : Rhododendrons are native to the northeast United States. You can visit the Rhododendron State Park in Fitzwilliam NH and literally see these plants in a natural habitat. Its believed they have grown in Fitzwilliam since at least the 1700s.

Characteristics : Some rhododendrons are evergreen so they keep their long, oval and deep green leaves all season. They blossom in spring with large, fluffy looking blooms most often in shades of purples, pinks or white.

Some specific varieties do blossom throughout the year. Rhododendrons can grow quite large reaching up to 25 feet tall.

This makes them a great option for a property edge for privacy or to block an unwanted view. Azaleas can also get quite tall, though are more likely to be in the 4 - 6 foot range. They come in dwarf varieties and give year round interest and color to partial shade areas of a yard.

There are varieties of both rhododendron and azalea that are deciduous and lose their leaves in the fall.

Fun Facts : A brain twister for you! All azaleas are rhododendrons, but not all rhododendrons are azaleas. What’s the big difference? It’s mostly in the flowers. Azaleas will have one flower per stem while rhododendron will have a cluster of flowers at the end of a stem. Also, azalea have 5 stamen (one per petal, also known as lobes) and rhododendron have 10 or more stamen (two per lobe). Piedmont Master Gardeners has a few more differences to pay attention to when identifying these closely related shrubs.

A few varieties of rhododendron will have the initials PJM in the name. PJM stands for Peter J. Mezitt, who created a hybrid rhododendron in 1939 which his son Ed later named in honor of his father. This was all done in Massachusetts!

Care Considerations : RAG Thyme gardeners will trim off any dead branches or ground growth

that is crowding the base of the plant. Rhododendrons and azaleas are hearty shrubs and as long as they aren’t getting too much sun or wind exposure they will stay healthy without much pruning or excessive watering. While they will send out runner roots from the base they do not spread seed that will sprout up in an unexpected part of your yard. Our team will look for any signs of fungus infection as well as rolled or yellowed leaves that indicate the shrub either needs watering or, in the case of smaller rhododendrons and azaleas, to be moved someplace that is more sheltered in your yard.

Contact us ( to get an estimate on RAG Thyme services for your yard and garden! We’ll help existing plants stay brilliant, or suggest alternatives with as much beauty and personality.

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