The difference between azaleas and rhododendrons


what is the difference between azaleas and rhodode

Comparison of rhododendron and azalea plants

Have you ever encountered the question: what is the difference between azaleas and rhododendrons? Are they the same plants or is there a reason to use both these names?

Rhododendrons are often called azaleas, but this isn't always accurate. The genus Rhododendron, which is part of the heather family, represents over a thousand species of different sizes, shapes and characteristics. The entire genus Rhododendron is divided into eight main groups (subgenera), two of which (Tsutsusi and Pentanthera) are known as azaleas. Thus, all azaleas are rhododendrons, but not all rhododendrons are azaleas.

The difference between azaleas and rhododendrons also lies in the shape of the leaves and other parts of these plants. The leaves of azaleas are in general smaller and pointed, while the leaves of other rhododendrons are mostly leathery and larger. Azaleas of the Tsutsusi group are evergreen, while Pentanthera azaleas are deciduous.

azalea tsutsusi
Rhododendron (azalea) from Tsutsusi subgroup
azalea Pentanthera
Rhododendron (azalea) from Pentanthera subgroup

 

Growers often use the term rhododendron to refer to two other groups of plants within the rhododendron genus: Rhododendron and Hymenanthes. The Rhododendron group is characterized by small spotted leaves, while plants within the Hymenanthes group are characterized by large smooth leaves. The other rhododendron subgenera (Azaleastrum, Candidastrum, Mumeazalea and Therorhodion) are less numerous, comprising only 6 species in total.

Rhododendron maximum
Rhododendron from the Rhododendron subgroup
Rhododendron purple
Rhododendron from hymenanthes subgroup

Rhododendrons and azaleas have both similar growing and care requirements. They prefer semi-shaded location, well-drained, acidic soil and plenty of water.



You may also like

columnar apple and pear trees

How to choose and grow columnar fruit trees

Columnar fruit trees are very popular among growers and there are several reasons for this. This type of tree allows people who don't have a large yard to grow fruit. Columnar fruit trees can even be grown in pots so…

how to prune grapes

Pruning grape vines in two easy steps

Whether you grow wine grapes or table varieties, you've probably already encountered the question of how to prune grapes properly to keep the vines healthy and productive each season. Pruning grape vines affects how…

bushes

20 most beautiful bushes for your garden

Garden bushes, together with trees, are the backbone of any garden, large or small. Their shape brings texture and volume to the space, and their variability means they have something to offer in all seasons. The vast…

pH value of soil

How to test soil pH and adjust soil acidity

Whether you're planning to grow plants in either an edible or an ornamental garden, it is useful to know the pH of the soil in the garden, as different plants are suited to different soil acidity levels (pH). The pH…

when do you prune roses

Pruning roses in 6 easy steps

The key to achieving beautiful, abundantly flowering roses is annual pruning. Pruning removes dead and damaged parts of the plant, lets air and light reach the whole plant, and encourages the rose to grow. Although many…

Planting fruit trees

How to plant a fruit tree in six easy steps

The way you plant a fruit tree will affect its growth, including how long it will take to produce fruit and how productive it will be. That is why it is important to plant trees properly and give them a good start in…