Ten of the Best Rhododendrons and Azaleas

Rhododendrons are acid-loving plants best known for their large, showy clusters of funnel, tubular or bell-shaped flowers available in a range of colours spanning reds, yellows, pinks, purples and even white. Most rhodos flower in spring but there is also a growing range of summer flowering varieties perfect for adding charm and beauty to your garden, whilst deciduous azaleas also offer beautiful autumn foliage colour. Larger varieties make great hedges, screens and foundation plants whilst dwarf alpines are highly effective in rock gardens and compact hybrids look excellent in containers positioned in a shade spot of the garden. They succeed in partial or dappled shade and combine well with the likes of Euphorbia 'Tasmanian Tiger' and Pieris 'Forest Flame'. The huge range of over 900 different types can be a bit daunting, so we've collated a list of ten of the best rhododendrons and azaleas to choose from.


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Our Top 10 Rhododendron and Azalea Picks

Rhododendron 'Blue Diamond' - a compact, evergreen rhododendron with aromatic, evergreen leaves and stunning violet-blue blooms. These are produced in prolific clusters which cover the plant between April and May before fading to lavender-blue. It has a compact, rounded growth habit with small, dark green, azalea-like foliage and turns bronze-green in the winter. Grows best in raised beds.


Rhododendron Blue Diamond


Rhododendron 'Curlew' - a dwarf evergreen shrub with deep green oval leaves and creamy yellow, bell-shaped flowers that are spotted with greenish-brown on the inside. Perfect for smaller gardens because of their compact size, and will attract bees and butterflies to the garden. Don't plant too deep and water thoroughly; especially during dryer spells.


Rhododendron Curlew


Rhododendron azalea 'Golden Eagle' - a deciduous hybrid azalea which offers rich flowers and striking autumn foliage colour. It is also daintier than the garden Rhododendron, making it ideal for smaller gardens. Large, trumpet-shaped, orange-yellow flowers erupt from tight trusses of pale red buds between May and June. It is a deciduous variety with pale green foliage which takes on brilliant shades of bronze and purple in the autumn.


Azalea Golden Eagle


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Rhododendron azalea japonica 'Geisha Orange' -  a promising new orange, evergreen azalea which has a dense, spreading growth habit and forms a compact mass of small, hairy dark green foliage. It bears bright reddish-orange flowers which are produced throughout May and June and grows to about 70cm high and a metre wide.


Azalea Geisha Orange


Rhododendron azalea japonica 'Palestrina' - this is a hardy, evergreen variety of azalea which bears single, pure white flowers which have a faint, pale yellow-green ray in the throat. These are produced above pale green, ovate leaves between May and June. It reaches a height of about 1 metre with a spread of 70cm, and looks most spectacular when grown in full sun.


Azalea Palestrina


Rhododendron x hybrid 'Anna Rose Whitney' - if you would like an eye catching Rhododendron then the Anna Rose Whitney variety is the perfect plant for you. It has beautifully large showy pink flowers, which emerge in June, set off against large evergreen leaves.


Rhododendron Anna Rose Whitney

Rhododendron x hybrid 'Lees Dark Purple' -  this is a compactly branched evergreen Rhododendron with a broad, mound-forming growth habit. It bears showy, violet-purple flowers which erupt from dark purple buds in late May and early June. The flowers are produced in dense trusses and are enhanced by attractive, brown blotches. It is a moderate grower which makes an ideal background shrub. It is also large enough to be used as a privacy screen or for growing as a hedge to block undesirable views.


Rhododendron Lees Dark Purple


Rhododendron yakushimanum 'Bashful' -  this is a beautiful evergreen dwarf rhododendron with delicate pink flowers with a spotted orange throat, it has a compact growth habit making this plant ideal for growing in a tub. Also suitable for using as a hedge or barrier, or for growing on banks and slopes.


Rhododendron Bashful


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Rhododendron yakushimanum 'Dopey' -  this is a small, evergreen hybrid with lance-shaped, mid-green leaves and a compact, upright growth habit. It bears enormous, showy, bright orange-red flowers above mid-green leaves between May and June. These are produced in dense trusses and have attractive, exotic-looking black splotches. It is a free-flowering variety which is attractive to butterflies and makes a lovely, small accent plant.


Rhododendron Dopey


Rhododendron yakushimanum 'Fantastica' -  densely rounded evergreen shrub with beautiful dark green leaves, and an abundance of bell shaped flowers, pinky-red at the edges and then fading to white in the throat. Very striking rhododendron, perfect for brightening up a border or for growing in a container.


Rhododendron Fantastica


You may also be interested in our other articles on How to plant, grow and care for Rhododendrons and What's the difference between a rhododendron and an azalea?



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