How Much Sun Do Azaleas Need?

By Phyllis Benson

The azalea is a flowering shrub related to the rhododendron. According to the Azalea Society of America, the azalea thrives in variable shade. This type of shade is provided by trees that sway or blow in the wind, offering sun one moment and shade the next to azaleas.

Pink azaleas on bush
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azalea bush

Preferences

Azaleas Shed Woods Vine Rail fence
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Azalea's prefer the shade.

The azalea prefers filtered light or partial shade. With too much shade, the plant does not flower. In full sun, the shrub is compact and the blooms, though prolific, do not last long.

Types

Exbury gardens
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Azaleas in the United Kingdom

An azalea native to the United States is deciduous and sheds leaves over winter months, while an azalea native to European areas is evergreen with leaves all year.

Cultivars

Azalea
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Cinnabar azalea

Azaleas, hybridized for hundreds of years, offer varieties for most climate zones. Some are more shade or more sun tolerant depending on the cultivar.

Sun Tolerant

Azaleas
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Azaleas in sun.

The University of California recommends evergreen azaleas based on Indica or Indian hybrids. These hybrids grow in full sun and are nicknamed sun azaleas.

Shade Tolerant

Flame Azalea Blooms Blue Ridge Mountains Roan Highlands State Park
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Flame azaleas in the blue ridge mountains.

The University of Illinois recommends azaleas such as the Flame Azalea that tolerates partial to full shade. Other hybrids are based on this azalea.