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A breath of fresh air! Despite its rather unflattering name, Swamp Azalea is a delightful, garden-worthy Accent that will enchant you each summer with a parade of pretty white or pale pink flowers that exude an exhilarating scent. On those warm, balmy days of early summer, while you sit on your patio and unwind, you’ll catch a whiff of that sweet clove fragrance and feel grateful that you planted this charming native Azalea. Hummingbirds, butterflies, and bumblebees will be grateful, too, for the flowers’ sweet nectar. Wonderful near a water feature or in moist, shady spots in the garden.
True to its name, Swamp Azalea inhabits soggy spaces. In the wild, it can be found growing in wet lands in the easternmost states; its natural range extends from Maine to Florida and curves around to include eastern Texas and Oklahoma. It’s also known as Clammy Azalea for its sticky petals and Swamp Honeysuckle for its sweet scent (though it isn’t related to true Honeysuckles). Swamp Azalea is one of our last native Azaleas to bloom, and it fills a gap in the blooming calendar. After the flowering frenzy of spring, it’s nice to have some blossoms during the comparatively quiet period that follows.
Although Swamp Azalea has a soft, romantic air in summer, fall is another story. That’s when the small green leaves take on eye-popping gold, purple, maroon, and orange tones. The confetti colors make a festive display in the landscape.
How to Grow
As you can imagine, Swamp Azalea is a lover of wet, acidic soils and will thrive in that low part of your garden where water collects. It can even tolerate seasonal flooding. It does not, however, appreciate having its roots submerged year-round, so make sure the soil does have some drainage. In regular garden situations, Swamp Azalea is also an option, provided you mulch the root zone well with organic matter and supply supplemental irrigation during dry spells. A site in dappled shade with few hours of morning sun will suit this plant best. Be sure to go light on the fertilizer, as Azaleas are sensitive to excess nitrogen.
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