growth rate of a swamp azalea?

perennialgal(5b-6)June 14, 2009

Hi all,

I'm somewhat new to gardening and finally doing some major landscaping in a long, narrow, and shady "side" yard. This includes getting a few large shrubs, possibly one small tree. Some of the contenders on my list: viburnum, andromeda, japanese lace leaf maple, pee-gee hydrangea shrub.

I was at a nursery yesterday and on the advice of a couple of the nurserymen there, wound up leaving with a swamp azalea. I told them what I was looking for: a shrub/very small tree that will fill in a shady corner where two fences meet at the far length of the side yard, thus a focal point that can be seen in the distance when entering the side yard. I have been thinking of: viburnum, japanese maple, andromeda. The guy selling the azalea to me said that its growth rate is very good, but once home and checking online and the various books I have, as well as remembering what I was told at a different nursery where the advice is stellar, my feeling is that it has a very slow growth rate. Not at all what I want...

I'm still kicking myself that I bought this shrub. I've been hesitating on this decision for a couple of months now, and I think I bought it out of desperation! I'm hoping the nursery will take it back.

Could anyone comment on its growth rate, especially in a shady (morning sun, afternoon shade/dappled shade) location? Thanks! Also, I've been having a very hard time picturing what it will look like. Most everything I find online and in books shows close-ups of the flowers. If anyone can recommend a site that shows the shrub in situ, that would be great. I guess I'll start noticing them myself, just as I've been noticing viburnums and andromedas everywhere...

Sorry for the long message. Thanks for reading and thanks for any advice.

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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Swamp azalea is the common name of Rhododendron viscosum.

It is a native plant from Maine to Florida and from Florida to SE Texas. It typically grows to 5 ft. tall in 10 years. It will grow taller in more shade and less tall on more sun.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2009 at 9:03PM
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esh_ga

Mine just finished blooming - the fragrance is incredible! Mine gets good morning sun and has been a good grower, but I suspect in more shade that it will grow a bit slower.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2009 at 9:57PM
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perennialgal(5b-6)

Thanks both of you. Yes, this confirms everything I've been reading about this plant. The shrub I got is a bit too small. I agree, the fragrance IS incredible. Maybe I can find some other place in the yard for it, just not in that spot.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2009 at 11:20PM
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esh_ga

If the spot is shady, I would tend to go with either the Pieris (andromeda?) which is shade tolerant or the japanese maple (which does not have showy flowers that rely on sun to form). The more "tree like" viburnum that I know would be Viburnum prunifolium, but again the shade would affect how many blooms you might get.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 9:34AM
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perennialgal(5b-6)

Thanks esh ga. The Viburnum I had in mind is the Doublefile Viburnum: Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum, although someone else was just telling me yesterday that it would really prefer more sun than in that particular location, and it's been a contender for another corner nearby, which gets some morning sun, shade, and quite a bit of afternoon dappled sun through the tall trees in neighboring properties. That's the place where I"m also thinking of pee-gee hydrangea.

I should post on the design forum. I've been so frustrated...

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 1:08PM
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esh_ga

Doublefile viburnum needs 6 or more hours of sun to look good (flowers) and also it can get quite big. I would not consider it for that spot. Be sure to look up the mature size on that and compare it to any spot you are considering.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 10:04AM
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crb82(7b-8a)

if you plant the viscosum in a sem-shaded area that recieves mostly morning sun rather than afternoon, it should grow quite fast. however, they require a lot of supplemental moisture. i have one next to my house and it got supplemental rain fall from the house it has grown to 7ft in 5 years.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 11:55AM
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xstemboatr

If you are hesitating with the swamp azalea, I could recommend a carlessi viburnum. It prefers morning sun, afternoon shade, incredibly fragrant blooms in early spring here, and I have seen it up to 10 ft. tall - I planted two air layers that were about 2 ft. tall 3 years ago and now they are about 5 feet tall. But, I also love Japanese maples which add such a nice color "pop." Also, I find that (like it or not) the slower growing specimens oftentimes are the most coveted in the garden in the long run !

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 8:32AM
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