Sweet pinxter azalea

Pictured above: Sweet pinxter azalea (Rhododendron canescens) by Emily Bell. Click on terms for botanical definitions. View post as a PDF.

Sweet pinxter azalea (Rhododendron canescens), also known as mountain azalea, is a deciduous flowering shrub. Its showy pinkish- to rose-colored flowers are trumpet-shaped with noticeably protruding stamens and pistils. They are borne around the same time that the first leaves appear and are particularly fragrant. Leaves are obovatehairy and alternately arranged.

Sweet pinxter azalea blooms in spring and occurs naturally in pine flatwoods, mesic hammocks, bay swamps, and floodplain and slope forests. It attracts a number of pollinators, including hummingbirds.

Hummingbird clearwing moth (Hemaris thysbe) nectaring on Sweet pinxter azaleas (Rhododendron canescens)
Photos by Emily Bell

Family: Ericaceae (Heath family)
Native range: Panhandle, Northern peninsula
To see where natural populations of Sweet pinxter azalea have been vouchered, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Lifespan: Perennial
Soil: Rich, acidic soils
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: up to 15’ tall
Propagation: Seed, division
Florida regions of landscape suitability: North
Garden tips: Sweet pinxter azalea works well as a specimen plant, in a mass planting or naturalistic landscape, and in containers. Young plants may appear straggly but will fill in and spread out as they mature.

Sweet pinxter azalea is often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants. Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.

Learn more about Sweet pinxter azalea from the Florida Native Plant Society and the Institute for Regional Conservation.

For more information on other Rhododendron species, see these resources:

Swamp azalea

Swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum) is Florida’s only white-flowered and summer-blooming rhododendron. It occurs in wet flatwoods, seep and bay swamps and along lake margins and attracts a variety of pollinators.
Read more… Swamp azalea