15 Types of Rhododendron for an Evergreen Shrub Garden

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types of rhododendron

All types of rhododendron are evergreen shrubs that are smaller than trees in stature and bloom all year. They might be small ground coverings that grow to be a few inches tall, or they can grow to be gigantic trees. They're typically found in Asia, Europe, and North America's temperate zones.

Rhododendron burst forth with beautiful blooms in a rainbow of hues in the early spring and bloom in the months of March, April, and May. Depending on climate suitability, some rhododendron varieties may bloom as early as January, while others may flower as late as August.

There are three main types of rhododendron bushes: Evergreen Shrubs, Deciduous Shrubs and Evergreen Trees. Read with us below to understand the species of rhododendron more.

15 Types of Rhododendron

Rhododendron are a large botanical family of flowering plants. Rhododendron come in a variety of sizes and shapes, from little shrubs to large trees.

Rhododendron and azaleas are both members of the rhododendron genus. All types of azaleas, unlike rhododendron, are not evergreen. We've listed the most prevalent rhododendron types as well as the primary sorts below.

Rhododendron Elviira

rhododendron elviira

Rhododendron Elviira is low maintenance, broadleaf evergreen shrub with eye-catching bright red blossoms in spring. It has dark, coarse foliage and a compact mounded habit. It requires well-drained, highly acidic, and organic soil with plenty of peat moss when planting. Use fertilizer with the right fertilizer numbers to get the pH balance you need.

In mid-spring, Elviira Rhododendron branches are adorned with trumpet-shaped cherry-red flowers that grow at the ends of branches. Of all the rhododendron names, the Elviira is by far the coolest, too.

The blooms have a mild aroma to them. The Elviira leaves stay green throughout the winter. This landscape beauty is a small evergreen shrub with a high value that prefers to grow in milder climates.

Daurian Rhododendron

daurian rhododendron is one of the rhododendron types that require low-maintenance

Rhododendron dauricum, often known as daurian is a shrub with an open branching habit that is semi-evergreen with compact, tiny leaves. The plant's fruit resembles a capsule. It is a low-maintenance plant.

It is a flowering plant that belongs to the Ericaceae family of heath plants. It blooms funnel-shaped purple flowers that emerge in late winter or early spring before the dark green leaves show. The flowers range in color from a delicate pink to a deep purple.

This shrub prefers a shady spot in the sun and an area that is protected from the harsh winter winds to grow fully. In direct sunlight, the foliage may burn.

Rhododendron Black Satin

some rhododendron varieties, like rhododendron black satin, can hint you the spring's arrival with its early bloom

The Black Satin blooms early in the season, reminding you that spring is on the way. The leaves of this species are dark green and long. The flowers are saucer-shaped with shades of white to pale yellow.

These shrubs are upright, compact, and rather wider than tall. Rich pink flowers bloom above aromatic dark purple foliage. As the weather cools, the new growth becomes a speckled green that darkens.

Early in the season, circular trusses of light violet-purple flower bloom. As the weather cools, the new growth on these types of rhododendron becomes a speckled green that darkens. Black satin has a great accent for foundation planting.

Rhododendron Blue Peter

some varieties of rhododendron, like rhododendron blue peter, are known to be extremely durable

It’s an urban pollution tolerant, thick and multi-stemmed evergreen shrub with an upright spreading habit of growth. In most climates, these are planted widely for gardening. This is because of their cold endurance and heat resistance, and ability to tolerate the sun.

This evergreen shrub is adorned with clusters of lovely violet and white blossoms with a dark burgundy blotch. Their petals are frilled as well, and their shrubbery can reach a height of 3 meters.

Blue peter is a low-maintenance shrub that should be clipped immediately after it has finished flowering to avoid destroying any of the present season's blossoms.

Rhododendron Boule de Neige

rhododendron boule de neige

Rhododendron Boule de Neige is a thick, attractive, bulbous shrub, adorned with clusters of exquisite white blossoms that resemble clouds.

A truss in the shape of a ball contains roughly ten flowers on these shrubs. The buds of their blooms are pink, while the blossoms are white.

It is a species that grows slowly. It flourishes on loamy, acidic soil. The flecks of brown or yellow in these pristine white blossoms give them an artistic charm. They're found in clusters that are hemispherical and compact. They are distinguished by their size, leaf texture, and color.

Rhododendron ‘Bow Bells’

some rhododendron names can give you a hint about the shape of the flower. for instance, rhododendron 'bow bells' is named after its bell-shaped blossoms

Bow Bells Rhododendron is a small, oval mid-green shrub with purplish-bronze new growth and small, oval shaped mid-green leaves. They are a species that grows slowly, reaching a maximum height of 3 feet in ten years. On the lower side, they feature dense, colorful plant hair.

The bell-shaped flowers are found in loose bunches. The buds have bright pink color, but the flowers bloom with a pastel pink tint. They look amazing when in bloom and grown as types of hedges or at least within them.

This hybrid is recognized for its rounded leaf, which grows bronze-colored while young but matures to a deep green. It is named for its pink, bell-shaped blossoms. These types of rhododendron thrive on humus-rich, green, acidic soil in a somewhat shady location.

Rhododendron White Angel

rhododendron white angel

Rhododendron White Angel is a low-maintenance evergreen shrub. It has a compact, vase-shaped crown that ascends. It is a compact growing plant with attractive foliage that grows wider than taller. The leaves are leathery and dark green until October, when they become almost purplish.

Early in May, the pink buds of these rhododendron types open to reveal trusses of white flowers with subtle brown markings. The blossoms are a mixture of white and purple hues.

Flower buds of White Angel are pink, but the flowers open to reveal white petals while the leaves have a cuneate base and a broad sharp tip.

Rhododendron 'Windsong'

rhododendron 'windsong'

Windsong rhododendron are evergreen shrubs that grow slowly, reaching a height of four feet in 10 years. It has unusual, luxuriant yellow flowers that form a lovely cluster with glossy green leaves. Its buds are peach pink in color, but after it blooms, it turns white.

This cultivar is distinguished by its open funnel-shaped flower with wavy margins, bright greenish-yellow nectarines. 17-flower truss in the shape of a ball. They have oval leathery dark green leaves of medium size. It is resistant to deer.

The Windsong prefers to be in the shadow and can only survive four hours of direct sunshine every day.

Rhododendron Catawbiense

rhododendron catawbiense

Catawba Rhododendron is a big, multi-stemmed, evergreen shrub with enormous, funnel-shaped flowers in shades of pink or purple-lilac. The leaves are elliptic to oblong, lustrous, dark green, and alternate. Its huge flower buds emerge before blooming and burst in late spring to early summer.

The lavender-pink flowers have a funnel shape with green to yellow-brown throat patterns. Elongated dry seed capsules of these varieties of rhododendron mature in the fall after the flowers have faded.

Rhododendron Yakushimanum

some types of rhododendron bushes, like rhododendron yakushimanum, are robust and easy-to-grow

Rhododendron Yakushimanum are the dwarf evergreen cousins of the huge flowered hybrid types. They grow more slowly and are typically wider than they are tall. These types of rhododendron bushes are robust, easy-to-grow plants that, like other rhododendron, require acidic soil to thrive.

It features young leaves that are silvery in color, maturing to dark green color with fine, felty hairs. It has enormous flowers that bloom from late April to early June, depending on the variety.

The hue of the large pastel flowers changes with time; while the bud is brightly colored at first — the blossom gradually lightens.

Rhododendron Nova Zembla

rhododendron nova zembla

Rhododendron 'Nova Zembla' is a stunning hybrid rhododendron that blooms in May and June. The enormous trusses of bright red blooms on this compact, dense, upright, evergreen shrub are a great sight to see. In brighter light, the flower's color changes to a deep pink tone.

Nova Zembla's foliage is thick and dark green in color. Since the roots of this rhododendron are thin, you can’t burry them deep into the soil. Nova Zemblas is very helpful as a landscape accent or in foundation plantings.

P.J.M. Rhododendron

p.j.m. rhododendron

P.J.M. Rhododendron are spring-flowering shrubs with spectacular flowers in shades of white, pink, purple, and red. As they bloom, you’ll get this vibrant lavender-purple contrast with the small, dark green foliage. The evergreen foliage becomes a mahogany-brown tint in the winter.

The shrub has a compact shape and an upright, mounding habit. It likes to keep a clean appearance on its own, so if you choose to let it grow organically, you won't have to put much effort into it. It is so tolerant that it can withstand heat, sunlight, and extremely cold temperatures.

Rhododendron Gibraltar

rhododendron gibraltar

Gibraltar rhododendron are deciduous flowering shrubs. It has deep crimson-orange buds that open in the spring to enormous, somewhat frilled, rich orange flowers with a deep yellow flare that bloom in late spring. To safekeep from root rot, they do best in well-drained soil.

This cultivar is a slow grower, only reaching a height of 6 feet and a width of 5 feet. They prefer acidic soil and plenty of sunlight.

They thrive next to a building or fence with morning light and wind protection. This is a popular deciduous rhododendron that blooms in the months of May and June. Grow some types of lilacs along side these types of rhododendron and you'll have a visually stunning property border.

Stewartsonian Azalea

stewartsonian azalea

The Stewartsonian Azalea is a hybrid between typical varieties of rhododendron and the Gable Stewartsonian azalea flower. It grows in a round shape up to 5 feet high and 5 feet in width. This evergreen bush will produce red flowers that will come from all branches of the bush globally.

This means that the light green leaves of these rhododendron types won't be that visible when the bush is in bloom, though during winter when the flowers are gone, the leaves will be visible but will have turned a brown color.

Golden Oriole Rhododendron

golden oriole rhododendron is one of the cross-bred types of rhododendron

The Golden Oriole is another hybrid rhododendron mixed with azalea (which itself is a sub-type of rhododendron). It's not some new variety either. It's been cross-bred for over 200 years now.

When allowed, it'll grow up to 6 feet in height. When not in bloom you'll enjoy the color-changing leaves that shift through brown and bronze hues in the fall and green in the spring and summer. Once it blooms you'll absolutely love looking at the golden yellow flowers that cover most of the bush, hiding all other foliage.

More Types of Rhododendron

While we can't, and you wouldn't want us to, cover every single one of the rhododendron varieties, we can at least list off some more. The list can go on forever once you bring in hybrids, so we'll try to stick to the most impressive:

  • Betty Muir
  • Bloom-a-Thon
  • Snow Luster
  • Jegon
  • Wakaebisu
  • Alexander
  • Rococo
  • Kiri-no-Hikari
  • Chippewa
  • Cherie
  • Reiko
  • Peppina
  • Hidoshi

This is literally a fraction of the rhododendron names we could list. Ultimately you'll start to find that they aren't that different from one another and you can find joy in your few favorites as much as branching out (pun intended) to tons of other types.

If you want to organize your search, here are the main rhododendron species you can look into, each of which have a lot of sub-types:

  • Japanese Azaleas (Rhododendron molle Japanicum)
  • Azalea Satsuki (R. indicum)
  • Rhododendron wardii
  • Dwarf Rhododendron (R. forrestii)
  • Reddish Rhododendron (R. russatum)
  • Small-Leaved Rhododendron (R. impeditum)
  • Daurian Rhododendron (R. dauricum)
  • Tree Rhododendron (R. arboreum)
  • Dwarf Alpine Rose (R. keleticum)
  • Indoor Azaleas (R. simsii)
  • Fortunes Rhododendron (R. fortunei)

I'd suggest, if you do plan to dig deeper, to find the species you like and then explore the types of rhododendron bushes you like in those categories. No need to grow the kinds that don't catch your eye.

Types of Rhododendron for Low Maintenance, Deciduous Trees

This brings our article on different types of rhododendron to a conclusion. Rhododendron are among the most colorful and eye-catching plants you can grow in your yard.

Varying species of rhododendrons have different planting needs, but because they are from the same genus, they can be planted in similar planting conditions. Hopefully, this article has assisted you in selecting the best types of rhododendron for your yard.

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Rick Worst Headshot Rick is a home design consultant and enthusiast, whose life is consumed by all things home and garden. Started as a hobby, Worst Room has grown into an information and inspiration wheelhouse for professionals and home owners alike. Rick serves as owner and editor for our many content contributors. Learn more about operation here.