Rhododendron viscosum - Swamp Azalea

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Full SunShadeButterfly FriendlyBird FriendlyRain GardenFall Color


swamp azalea
Rhododendron viscosum

This deciduous azalea blooms in summer. The abundant white flowers have a spicy, clove-like fragrance that fills the garden. The flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Plants grow into multi-stemmed shrubs that put on a show in fall with their flame-red foliage.

  • Tough, winter-hardy azalea
  • Flowers late so it extends landscape color
  • Lustrous green foliage with great fall color
  • Happy in poorly-drained soil and wetland areas
  • White flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds

Native Range

Wooded and open swamps and along streams from Maine to Florida and west to Texas.


Rhododendron viscosum roots can be susceptible to root rot during extended flooding or in poorly draining soil, but they are hardier than other plants in the species and somewhat more tolerant of wet soils.


Grows well in acidic and humus-rich conditions in average to moist, well-drained soils. Avoid planting near black walnut and butternut trees. 

Mature Size: 8-10' T x 6-8' W

Hardiness Zone: 3-7

Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Full Shade


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    Quick Tips for Choosing Plants:

    • Planting a variety of native trees, shrubs, perennials and vines increases biodiversity and gives wildlife a source for food, cover and nesting
    • Choose a mixture of deciduous and evergreen trees so birds and other wildlife will always be able to find shelter
    • Plant trees and large shrubs where they will block winter winds from the house and shade it in summer, that will save energy and lower your carbon footprint
    • Try your best to buy plants that were grown locally, your independent garden center will be your best bet
    • Think about ultimate height and width of the plant you choose, make sure it will fit the space you have for it when it's reached maturity
    • Plant nectar plants in groups, to attract butterflies and other beneficial insects more easily
    • Ask for help if you need it. Most garden centers either have a landscape designer on staff or they can give you a reference of a designer that is adept at native plant wildlife gardening. There will be upfront costs but they are small when compared to having to redo a landscape that wasn't what you really wanted

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    When you look at our tag you’ll find information about the plants natural habitat. That will give you a clue to how it will work in your backyard. For instance if the plant is naturally founded and moist, shade and you have full sun, it’s not the plant for you. The “Features” section gives you an overview or plant description so you’ll know what to expect. While the “Benefits” section talks about the plants strong suits and how the plant will benefit wildlife. 

    A Special Note About Exposure

    Full sun: Prefers six or more hours of direct sunshine a day
    Partial shade: Thrives in three to six hours of daily sunshine
    Shade: Generally does well with less than three hours of sun per day. Having said that even shade loving plants will struggle in extremely deep shade.


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