Fragrant Rhododendron And Azalea Varieties

(Image credit: Hakase_)

Azalea and rhododendron bushes are landscape staples in many regions of the United States. Their early season bloom period and immense range of color make them an ever popular choice with ornamental gardeners. Many species, and more specific hybrid cultivars, are also exceptionally fragrant. Learning more about each of these species can help landscapers to select the most fragrant rhododendrons, as well as those best suited to their growing zone. Below, we have listed five of our favorite fragrant azaleas and scented rhododendron varieties.

  1. Daviesii Rhododendron - Rhododendron Daviesii is a tall, yellow scented azalea. Blooming in late spring to early summer, flowers open to a beautiful creamy-white shade. Over time, flower petals begin to develop bright yellow flares. Hardy to USDA growing zones 5-8, Daviesii is among the most commonly available sweet scented rhododendron varieties. They are also exceptionally popular for use in borders and in the creation of privacy hedges. 
  2. Florida Flame Azalea - Like Daviesii, Florida Flame is an immensely ornamental yellow scented azalea. Many growers find its fragrance to be reminiscent of honeysuckle. A deciduous species, the plants offer landscapers a unique visual display producing large clustered blooms, before the production of seasonal foliage. Native to much of the southern United States, Florida Flame is highly resistant to disease and is seldom affected by insects. 
  3. Fragrantissimum Rhododendron - Fragrantissimum plants are among the most fragrant rhododendron types available. An evergreen, scented rhododendron Fragrantissimum plants produce masses of pure white flowers each spring in small clusters. Similar to Florida Flame azalea, most growers describe their scent as a delicate blend of floral honeysuckle notes. Scented rhododendron Fragrantissimum is also more compact than many other types, making it ideal for borders near homes and walkways. 
  4. Swamp Azalea - Also known as Rhododendron viscosum, swamp azalea are a native species which produce striking, white tubular flowers. Unlike other types of fragrant rhododendron, this type of azalea prefers wetlands and soils which are much moister. In fact, highly adaptable swamp azaleas can also withstand brief periods of flooding.
  5. Sweet Azalea - Sweet azalea, or Rhododendron arborescens, produces clusters of highly fragrant white flowers with dark red-purple stamens. Hardy to USDA growing zone 5, flowers begin to open in mid-summer and possess a scent very similar to heliotrope. Blooms are highly attractive to hummingbirds, as well as many beneficial insects. 
Tonya Barnett

Tonya Barnett has been gardening for 13 years. Flowers are her passion. She has transformed her backyard into a cut flower garden, which she regularly chronicles on her YouTube channel