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Native Azaleas of Louisiana in Pictures

Updated on March 13, 2017
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Yvonne writes about and photographs the flora and fauna of Louisiana, sharing knowledge she learned through study and personal experience.

A tiger swallowtail butterfly drinks nectar from a golden flame azalea.
A tiger swallowtail butterfly drinks nectar from a golden flame azalea. | Source

Native Azaleas

There are several beautiful deciduous azaleas (a type of rhododendron) which are native to Louisiana and other southern states. Unlike the Asian varieties, these azaleas are deciduous (they lose their leaves in winter) and they are cold hardy to below freezing temperatures. They have fragrant flowers in shades of pink, white, yellow, orange, and red. The pink ones are often called honeysuckle azaleas while the gold ones are called flame. Some cultivars have variegated leaves and/or flowers.

Showy native azaleas deserve a place in the landscape. Hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators are attracted to the colorful nectar-rich flowers making them a good addition to a wildlife, moon, or sustainable garden.

Clusters of sweet-scented flowers cover a native honeysuckle azalea bush (Rhododendron canescens).
Clusters of sweet-scented flowers cover a native honeysuckle azalea bush (Rhododendron canescens). | Source

Honeysuckle Azalea - Rhododendron canescens

Rhododendron canescens is also known as honeysuckle azalea and Piedmont azalea. This attractive deciduous shrub can grow to 8 feet and is a joy to behold in spring when the white to pink scented flowers cover the bare branches as the leaves unfold. Swallowtail butterflies and hummingbirds flock to the blossoms.

There are many shades of pink and white available and some experts think that Rhododendron canescens hybridizes freely in nature. In the wild, these azaleas are found growing in part-shade on high, well-drained ground along small streams and rivers all over Louisiana. They prefer acid soil and bloom best when they receive some morning sun. The pale, fragrant flowers stand out in the landscape, making this shrub a show stopper.

A lovely variegated cultivar of flame azalea.
A lovely variegated cultivar of flame azalea. | Source

Flame Azalea - Rhododendron astrinum

The gorgeous flame azalea which comes in shades of gold and orange-red is my favorite of the deciduous natives that will grow in Louisiana. This fragrant large shrub is a favorite of swallowtail butterflies as well as hummingbirds and bees. Though it is not native to Louisiana, it grows well here in much the same conditions as Piedmont azalea— part-shade, well-drained, moist acidic soil.

There are many cultivars of this beauty in the trade. Some have variegated flowers and others sport variegated foliage. In the landscape they make a striking addition to open shade areas where they can spread out and put on a show.

Golden yellow flame azaleas are one of my favorite native rhododendrons.
Golden yellow flame azaleas are one of my favorite native rhododendrons. | Source

Swamp Azalea - Rhododendron serrulatum or R. viscosum

Swamp azalea, an unusual summer blooming fragrant, white native azalea is fast disappearing in the wild. Most of the native rhododendrons bloom in spring, but this beauty blooms in June, after its leaves are formed, in South Louisiana. A large shrub, swamp azalea grows in swamps, wet pine-lands and wetlands in the wild.

To grow this hard to find shrub, plant it in rich, moist soil in part shade. Some nurseries call it "hammock-sweet azalea" and many growers and botanists argue that R. viscosum and R. serrulatum are two different species, while others consider them the same plant.

Native azaleas come in many colors.
Native azaleas come in many colors. | Source

Companion Plants

By adding compatible companion plants to plantings of native azaleas, your landscape will be ablaze in spring. Since these rhododendrons grow in the open shade of pine and hardwood forest, other acid-loving natives such as wild blueberries (Vaccinium), red buckeye (Aesculus pavia), or Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica) will add color in spring. Early spring bulbs such as amaryllis, daffodils, and narcissus planting in front of the bed will brighten the scene. Old-fashioned favorites such as Japanese magnolia and bridal wreath compliment the lovely blooms of these shrubs.

Scented summer or swamp native azalea bloom in June in South Louisiana.
Scented summer or swamp native azalea bloom in June in South Louisiana. | Source

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Which is your favorite native azalea?

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Piedmont native azalea: This pink variety is a wonderful addition to the wildlife garden.
Piedmont native azalea: This pink variety is a wonderful addition to the wildlife garden. | Source
The flower buds are works of art.
The flower buds are works of art. | Source
The flowers come in several shades of pink and white.
The flowers come in several shades of pink and white. | Source

© 2014 Yvonne L. B.

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    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 2 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi, only just come across your hubs. This is a well presented and informative hub, enhanced by great images. The Piedmont native azalea the flowers are uncannily like honeysuckle flowers. great read,voted up interesting and useful.

    • naturegirl7s profile image
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      Yvonne L. B. 2 years ago from Covington, LA

      Thank you. I'm glad that you liked it. I enjoy photographing the flowers in my backyard habitat, especially the natives.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

      Loved this hub ;full of interesting information and amazing pictures. Brilliant and looking forward to following you on here naturegirl7s.

      Enjoy your weekend.

      Eddy.