Oconee Azalea: Rhododendron Flammeum

We are very excited about the newest plant to our garden this year. Oconee Azalea is a deciduous native azalea with brightly colored blooms in several different hues. I have spent several years searching for this shrub.

Since it is unethical and often illegal to dig plants from the wild, we have been looking for a wholesale source for this plant in order to also offer it to other native azalea lovers.

Rhododendron Flammeum, formerly known as Speciosum, is commonly referred to as the Oconee Azalea and the Flame Azalea. Flammeum is a deciduous azalea native to the Piedmont region of Georgia and South Carolina.

Also often called the Flame Azalea, Rhododendron Flammeum displays bright flame-colored blooms in brilliant shades of apricot, coral, pink, orange, red, or yellow. Sometimes different shades even appear on different branches of the same shrub!

This species is all about variety. Not only can bloom color vary greatly, but growth habit can differ from one plant to another.  The Oconee Azalea ranges from a low mounding shrub to a tall tree-like form of 6  feet or more.

Blooms are not fragrant and appear usually sometime in April, after the Piedmont (Canescens) but before the Swamp and Alabama Azalea.

Flammeum can tolerate summer heat in gardens of the Deep South.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 6 – 9.

Site:  Part shade or filtered sunlight. High shade beneath tall hardwoods & pines is ideal.

Moisture: Regular water is best for optimum blooms and growth for year round beauty. Most azaleas are drought tolerant once they've been in the garden a few years.

Soil: Well-drained soil on the acidic side is important for all azaleas and rhododendrons. Amend the planting soil with compost or soil conditioner at planting time, especially if you have clay soil.

*Mulch well to retain moisture and keep the roots cool.  Azaleas have shallow roots close to the surface of the soil, so do not cultivate the soil after planting. 

A low groundcover beneath azaleas serves two purposes. Not only does a colorful groundcover accent the azalea, but also it will help to discourage weed growth. 

For more information on the Oconee Azalea as well as many other species Rhododendrons, please visit Shady Gardens Nursery.