Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rosy Pink Azalea

Rosy Pink has big showy flowers with a sweet scent
The yellow tag simply read, "Azalea Rosy Pink".  The deciduous azalea was covered with big, fat buds ready to open and welcome the spring! I was a goner.  It mattered not that it didn't have a species name, I knew that a rosy pink azalea was just what the Garden of Benign Neglect needed to continue its rehab and revival. It wasn't until later when I was gently teasing the roots out of the pot (roots are delicate and need to be treated as such with this azalea), that I found a red tag under the mulch. It read Deciduous  Azalea R. periclymenoides Bloom: Rose/Pink.

Big, fat buds ready to welcome Spring
R. periclymenoides is a native azalea (lower Appalachian Mountains, Piedmont and Coastal Plains from Massachusetts to north Georgia and Alabama) also known as Pinxterbloom Azalea or R nudiflorum It occurs naturally in the Southeastern USA along streams and moist woodlands.  It's been found growing in rich pockets of acidic soil in the county where I reside.
the flowers bloom on nearly naked stems 
It can take a drier rockier spot once it's established. But, no azalea, native or exotic, deciduous or evergreen would survive in my nearly neutral, gooey wet all winter and dry as concrete all summer soil.  So work had to be done to make sure the soil was both acidic and moist enough to not only keep an azalea alive but,  help it thrive.

Lucky for me I had just the right spot on a small slope, just above the  Ozark witch hazel.  Earlier in the year, I had dug out the native soil, mixed in compost and a special acid plant woodland mix in order to plant three small Leucothoe axillaris 'Sarah's Choice'.  
This little leucothoe forms a three to four foot  wide and no more than 2 foot tall evergreen ground cover.  It tolerates neutral soil,  but will be much happier in the acid soil that it's planted in. It will give the GOBN a pop of evergreen that was much needed and it will be a compliment to the azalea in years to come.

I planted Rosy Pink with care in the moist, well draining soil and waited for her to bloom.

Slowly the buds swelled and then they opened, a few at a time and then the entire shrub was covered in stunning rose pink flowers.

Pollinated by hawkmoths, butterflies and migrating hummingbirds
I wish you could catch their sweet scent on the air~

 Rose Pink is so worth the effort to keep her thriving in this garden.


PS More Pinxterbloom azalea facts
  • Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8   
  • Deciduous   
  • Slow growing, may colonize by stolons
  • Drought tolerant
  • Sun to partial shade; moist, well-drained soil, but will grow in sandy soil; does best with half day of sun   
  •  4 to 6 feet  x 4 to 6 feet a low spreading, much branched   
  • flower color varies from pink to white and has been described as cotton candy colored pink. flower color but often is cotton candy pink to white
  • flowers before leaves emerge
  • some are fragrant 
  • hummingbirds, moths and butterfly pollinated

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone." She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.


  1. Gail I love azaleas but they do not like my neutral soil no matter what I do...perhaps I need to plant my little one near the blueberries which are doing well...

    1. Donna, I am now using a product, Mr. Natural WSM (Woodland Soil Mix) that has worked wonders for my blueberries and other acid lovers. Mr Natural al;so makes Permatil that I add to the bottom of every planting hole to help with drainage and deter voles. Now if only they see this and reward me with a seasons worth of products! gail

  2. She is almost, almost prettier in bud than bloom but, no, the blooms are equally stunning. Why don't I have one (or 20) of these?

  3. I was surprised to see wild azaleas blooming in the woods around my house & pond. Mine are mostly white, but I have a few pink as well. They're so pretty and I like them so much more than the standard shrubs :)

  4. We call these Piedmont Azaleas and have them growing in our way back woods...lovely!

  5. Magnificent beauty!
    Happy Gardening!
    Lea's Menagerie

  6. She is very beautiful. I used to harbour a prejudice against azaleas. I thought they were too brash and bold for my taste. But the delicate beauty of ones like yours makes me take stock again. Lovely.

  7. I have done some truly unkind things to a Pinxter azalea over the years. That mine continues to exist (if not flower) is a testament to its stubbornness.

  8. I love azaleas but they hate my alkaline garden. Your photos make me wish once again I cold grow them...just lovely!

  9. Oh, you are having a love affair with this pinkie, Gail, it is readily apparent! And who can blame you, what a lovely creature she is. To me, the buds are as spectacular as the blooms, anticipation, you know. May she live long and prosper in the renovated GOBN.


  10. Lovely photos! Those buds look almost more beautiful than the open flowers themselves.

  11. Stunning! I have added a few native azaleas in my front woods. One yellow and one orange. Would love a pink!!

  12. What a beauty! It looks like she's loving her new home.

  13. What a beautiful clear pink! Our wild azaleas began blooming in the woods in the last week, but most are a sort of lavender-pink. And the same species as yours - R. periclymenoides. They seem very lush and full this year after our wet fall and mild winter.

    1. I think the lavender pink would be pretty, too!

  14. Oh my, this Azalea is stunning, even before its flowers unfurl! I can see why you were smitten. I miss Azaleas, and now, with the goats, I would have to be very careful if I planted any here, but I can always live vicariously through yours!

  15. I found your blog via "Jean's Garden" today as I was surfing. What a delight!! Looking forward to catching up on your posts...

    I am a Azalea/Rhododendron junkie - but with little success until recently. Clay is our basic 'soil' here, with a veneer of topsoil - but after soil amendments and a sheltered nook from frigid Winter winds, PJM Rhododendron has made it's '3rd year' return.

  16. Totally lovely! Native azaleas are a treasure (for those of us in the SE) and probably far-afield, too.


  17. I am not normally a fan of pink flowers, but this is a lovely azalea. I stumbled upon a patch of R. periclymenoides on a hike near a blackwater river a couple of years ago. Given the location I couldn't believe any azalea would grow there, let alone dozens that were thriving.

    1. Did they tempt you to try them? My understanding is that they can take heat and dryness a lot better than other azaleas. gail


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