Rhododendron arborescens (Sweet Azalea) Unity Grown
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Rhododendron arborescens, also called sweet or smooth azalea, is an upright, woody shrub that grows to 8-12' tall, occasionally reaching larger heights of up to 20'. From May to July, sweet azalea produces large, white or yellow showy flowers with long, trailing, pink or reddish pistils and stamens. Flowers are fragrant, sticky to the touch, and are attractive to butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.
Like other rhododendrons, smooth azalea is sensitive to soil moisture, pH, and light, and grows best in moist but well-drained, acidic, and organically rich soils on the sandier side. Rhododendron arborescens tolerates some shade, but not as much as some deep forest species and, as such, prefers part shade like that found in forest margins or open forest environments. Sweet azalea may be a finicky plant for the home garden, but when its optimal growth conditions are met, Rhododendron aborescens works excellently as a show-stopping multi-season border screen or specimen planting with showy spring flowers, beautiful green summer foliage, and striking orange, crimson, and purple fall colors.