Rhododendron vs Azalea: How to Tell the Difference 

Rhododendrons and azaleas are difficult to identify. Both bloom with lovely pink flowers in April and seem similar.   

Maybe you bought a mystery plant off the sale rack at the garden centre or misplaced the tag years ago, but you can still guess.  

Both plants are closely related. Azaleas are rhododendrons. All azaleas are rhododendrons, although not all are azaleas.  

The traits below are general. Rhododendrons can behave like azaleas, though. Identification is extremely difficult for hybrids and cultivars.  

Azaleas like partial light, acidic soil, and adequate moisture and drainage. Soggy soil harms azaleas' thin roots.  

Applying a 2-to 3-inch layer of organic mulch, such as pine straw, composted pine bark, or leaves, to the surrounding soil may be advantageous.  

This conserves soil moisture, suppresses weeds, and protects roots from high temperatures. Remove the mulch off the stems to dry them.”  

Get a second opinion when distinguishing rhododendrons vs. azaleas. For assistance, contact your local cooperative extension office or gardening club.  

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