|Photo by Eleanor Dietrich|
Sweet pinxter azalea (also known as mountain azalea) is a deciduous flowering shrub. Its showy pinkish- to rose-colored flowers are trumpet-shaped with noticeably protruding stamens and pistils. They are borne around the same time that the first leaves appear and are particularly fragrant. Leaves are obovate, hairy and alternately arranged.
Sweet pinxter azalea blooms in spring and occurs naturally in pine flatwoods, mesic hammocks, bay swamps, and floodplain and slope forests. It attracts a number of pollinators, including hummingbirds.
Family: Ericaceae (Heath family)
Native range: Panhandle, Northern peninsula
Hardiness: Zones 7-9b
Soil: Rich, acidic soils
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Growth habit: up to 15 feet tall
Garden tips: Sweet pinxter azalea works well as a specimen plant, in a mass planting or naturalistic landscape, and in containers. Young plants may appear straggly but will fill in and spread out as they mature. They are propagated by seed and division.
Sweet pinxter azalea plants are often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants.Visit plantrealflorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.
To see where sweet pinxter azalea occurs naturally, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.