by Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent
Native azaleas are a treasure and can be a showstopper in your landscape. Used
correctly, they literally can cause people to stop and ask, “What is that plant” as they are
so spectacular in full bloom.
There are a number of different species, all in the Rhododendron genus, with flower
color ranging from white to various shades of pink, yellow to various shades of orange
to orange-red, based on the species. Unlike the more common evergreen, non-native azaleas, most native azaleas are deciduous with flowers that are fragrant.
Native azaleas are underused. Some are endangered. It has been said by some plant
enthusiasts that native azaleas are the most beautiful of our native flowering shrubs.
They certainly deserve to be planted more frequently in our North Florida landscapes.
North Florida has a number of native azaleas and dozens more have been hybridized
including the Confederate Series, which are ideally suited for our growing conditions.
Most are fragrant, some are evergreen and all have beautiful blooms.
To learn more about these outstanding plants, you may be interested in attending a
seminar titled “Native Azaleas and Rhododendrons.” This seminar will be presented by
University of Florida Master Gardener, Master Naturalist and fifth generation native of
Okaloosa County Dave Gordon.
Dave’s program will feature many photos of these native azaleas, along with
instructions on how to plant, maintain and how to use them in our landscapes, along
with information on where to find them.
The seminar will be held on Wednesday, October 19 from 10 to 11 a.m. at the UF/IFAS
Extension Office in Okaloosa County located at 3098 Airport Road in Crestview. There is no cost to attend this seminar but space is limited so registration is required. Please call the Extension Office at (850) 689-5850 to register.
Additional information on azaleas is available online at http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu
and from the UF/IFAS Extension Office in your County. To find the Extension Office nearest you through the Solutions for Your Life website, click on the “Local Offices” tab found on the homepage. Other Extension program area topics available on this site or from the Extension Office in your County include agriculture, family and consumer info, sustainable living and 4-H youth.