Rhododendron arborescens

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Plant types and subtypes: Trees & Shrubs, Shrubs, Deciduous

Light Requirements: part-sun, part-shade

Water Use: medium

Soil Moisture: moist

Soil Description: acid, rich, loam, clay

Height: 4'-10'

Bloom Time: May, June, July

Bloom Color: white, pink

Leaf Color: green

Hardiness Zone: 5, 6, 7, 8

Additional Tags: attracts bees, attracts butterflies, fall interest, fragrant flowers, shade garden plant

Rhododendron arborescens (smooth azalea)
  • Rhododendron arborescens (smooth azalea)
  • Rhododendron arborescens (smooth azalea)
  • Rhododendron arborescens (smooth azalea)
  • Rhododendron arborescens (smooth azalea)

Pricing & Availability


Rhododendron arborescens

Also known as:

smooth azalea


sweet azalea

Scientific Synonyms:

Azalea arborescens


Rhododendron arborescens is a late-blooming, deciduous azalea with a flowering period from late spring to early summer. The flowers are typically white, or pinkish, with prominent red pistils, and very fragrant. The leaves are glossy and smooth, and develop spectacular shades of yellow, orange, burgundy, and purple in fall. The shrubs are loosely branched and can become quite large, growing to a height of 10' or more with equal spread.


Smooth azalea requires acidic, moist but well drained soil. It is adapted to the dry summer conditions typically found in deciduous forest understories throughout its native range. In cultivation, however, care should be taken to not let the soil dry out for extended periods of time, particularly if planted in an area exposed to a lot of direct sun. As a whole, Rhododendron arborescens is very low maintenance, adaptable, and will grow very fast with a minimum of pampering. Zones 5-8


Can be propagated from seed with no pretreatment required. Can also be propagated by layering or cuttings taken early in the growing season.

Additional Notes

Rhododendron arborescens is an underutilized species. Although it is often used to create hybrids, the straight species remains difficult to find commercially.

Native Range & Classification

Recorded County Distribution: USDA data

Native Range:

USDA Endangered Status:

  • Exploitably Vulnerable: NY


Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons
Subclass Dilleniidae
Order Ericales
Family Ericaceae Heath family
Genus Rhododendron rhododendron
Species Rhododendron arborescens smooth azalea