Rhododendron atlanticum (Coastal Azalea) Unity Grown
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Rhododendron atlanticum, also called coastal azalea, is a small deciduous shrub that grows to up to six feet tall, but most commonly between two and three feet tall. Deciduous leaves are glossy and dark green, and from April to May, Rhododendron atlanticum produces showy, white or light pink flowers that are sticky to the touch and produce a strong, musky fragrance. Flowers are attractive to butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds, and make for a truly impressive show through the spring with long, trailing pistils and stamens protruding from the petals.
Like other rhododendrons, coastal azalea is sensitive to soil moisture, pH, and light, and grows best in moist but well-drained, acidic, and organically rich soils. Rhododendron atlanticum tolerates some shade, but not as much as some deep forest species, and prefers part shade such as that of forest margins or open forest environments. When its optimal growth conditions are met, Rhododendron atlanticum can produce dense, thicket-like colonies, especially when grown in sandy soil; coastal azalea is a lot less prone to aggressive spreading when planted in heavier soils, like those found in most home landscape environments. Coastal azalea's compact size also makes them a valid choice for large container plantings, so long as they are provided with good drainage.
With wide-spreading surface roots and a need for speedy drainage, Rhododendron atlanticum is also an excellent pick for hillside plantings or slope-stabilization projects.