The word Rhododendron comes from the Ancient Greek for “Rose Tree”. It is an entirely accurate description as these plants offer an abundance of flowers in late winter and spring to brighten the shadier areas of the garden.
Rhododendrons and Azaleas are, in fact, from the same plant family; Rhododendron. The majority of the species originate from Asia, although a small number come from the Appalachian areas of North America. Rhododendrons, as we know them, are for the most part a large leafed, large flowered, evergreen species. Azaleas are usually smaller leafed and more compact and can be evergreen or deciduous. The most obvious difference between the two species is that Rhododendrons have 10 stamens within their flowers, while Azaleas only have 5.
They offer a range of colours to brighten up any garden. The evergreen rhododendron Madame Van Hecke has a beautiful array of bright pink flowers while the deciduous Kosters Red is covered with red/orange funnel shaped flowers that would suit your patio pots or containers. The Azalea No- Mai (evergreen) has white-centred deep purple/red flowers and the Azalea Rokoko (also evergreen) has wonderful deep pink flowers. All are spring flowering.
Whichever you prefer, Rhododendron or Azalea, both love to be shallow planted in an acid soil which is well drained. They also prefer dappled shade and require little attention during the year apart from a small amount of ericaceous Feed just ahead of flowering and a top dressing of mulch for water retention.