Source for Swamp Azalea (R. viscosum)

arley_gwApril 6, 2009

Greetings all:

This past weekend I went to the Congaree Swamp National Park (it's about 40 miles southeast of Columbia SC) and noticed a flowering shrub; the park ranger said it was 'swamp azalea' (Rhododendron viscosum). It's a deciduous azalea that makes clusters of small trumpet-shaped flowers; it apparently is also a good plant for fragrance, and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.

I googled the name, but I couldn't find any nursery that listed that plant; or, more accurately, the few that did list that plant were all out of it.

Anybody know of a source for those plants, or even seeds for those plants? From what I gather, there are a few different cultivars of that species.

I'm roughly equidistant from Charlotte NC and Atlanta GA, and I'd be willing to drive to either place or near either place to obtain some of those plants.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions/guidance


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Ernest Koone, from Lazy K Nursery is bringing a load of plants to us at Magnolia Gardens this month. Perhaps he could bring some with him.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 4:33PM
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I can't believe they are flowering this early. Here in Atlanta they are one of the later to bloom azaleas for me (I have one).

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 9:46PM
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i think he gave you the wrong species name and agree with esh.
they bloom later in my area (i want to say sometime in may).
mail order natives in the florida panhandle should have them. search for a website with that name.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 8:47AM
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Woodlanders in Aiken, SC, offers _Rhododendron viscosum_ and _Rhododendron viscosum_ 'Roseum.' As you are probably aware, Woodlanders is a one of the nation's leading mail order nurseries. However, you can make arrangements with them to pick up plant orders in person. Check their Website for plant descriptions, prices, and illustrations.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 9:53AM
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Jay, isn't that something: I live in downtown Aiken, about twelve blocks away from Woodlanders! I never thought to check with them because they're only open to the public one weekend a year. I've bought some interesting plants from them in the past. I'll have to check them out.

Jeff & Esh: I took a picture of the bloom and the plant and then googled 'swamp azalea'--the pictures I took look awful close to the pictures on the Internet. Maybe the local climate in the Congaree Swamp (incredibly humid on any warm day) has something to do with early blooming.

Thanks to all for the guidance.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 3:16PM
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Even though Woodlanders is open once a year for an open house, I think they will let you pick up plant orders during their regular business hours if you have called and reserved the plants in advance. When I worked in Valdosta, GA, I drove up to Woodlanders on my way home to South Carolina and picked up a few plants I had reserved. This was, however, a number of years ago.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 6:42PM
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Jay, it looks like it will be moot since that one week they're open starts April 18. I'll check them out.

Thanks again...

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 6:57PM
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Here's a link to bloom times of Native Azalea species in central SC, provided by Mike Creel, Azalea Society of America. According to this data, R. viscosum doesn't bloom until mid-May, same as in my area.
I was at Brookgreen Gardens, near Pawley's Island, SC last week and noticed a few white-flowered one's in bloom. They were not identified, but I assumed they were R. alabamense or a white-flowering form of R. canescens.

You can place an order with Woodlanders anytime and they will tell you when they are ready for pickup. I stopped by between Christmas and New Years to pick up 3 shrubs. No one was there, but the plants were ready, sitting near the potting shed, with instructions to leave the check inside the potting shed. Very accommodating owners!
Mike also lists other sources on his link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Azalea Society of America

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 6:40PM
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