Native azaleas thrive in cool, shaded areas

Published on Thursday, 10 April 2014 00:24 - Written by Dee Bishop, In Our Garden

Our native azaleas are so beautiful and smell heavenly.

Often called wild honeysuckle bush, Rhodendron canescens grows along wooded creek banks in deciduous hardwoods of the South. It grows in the Texas Big Thicket and surrounding area, and once may have grown into Northeast Texas, but you seldom if ever see them in this area any more.

I purchased some a few years back and they have grown really well in spite of the drought. I water them in summer, but usually only a couple of times a month. Once established, they can take drought fairly well, but not prolonged severe drought. These lovely shrubs grow 12 feet and even taller. I have seen them further over in Deep East Texas and they were probably 15 feet tall. They tend to grow in the woods. So, like dogwoods, they grow wispy and sometimes twisted — really beautiful understory shrubs.

You can purchase these beautiful shrubs at fine nurseries here in our area. If you have a cool yard, shaded with deciduous trees, this plant would look beautiful, interspersed with dogwoods, as understory shrubs.

Native azaleas are easily grown where you can give them the growing conditions they need — cool shady yards with sandy well-drained soil that can be watered when dry. Like other azaleas, they need to be mulched. I would love to see more of these beauties around Tyler.