|Subgenus:||Pentanthera and Tsutsusi|
One of the major differences between azaleas and the rest of the rhododendron family is their size. Another is their flower growth. Rhododendrons grow their flowers in clusters, while most azaleas have terminal blooms (one flower per flower stem). However, they have so many stems that during the flowering season they are a solid mass of colour. Azaleas are recognised by these flowers blooming all at once, in a showy display for a month or two in spring. The exception to this rule is a small group of azaleas which grow their flowers in tight terminal clusters that look like little balls of colour.
Plant enthusiasts have created hybrid azaleas for hundreds of years. This human genetic modification has produced over 10,000 different cultivars which are propagated by cuttings. Azalea seeds can also be collected and germinated.
The Satsuki azalea group, derived from Rhododendron indicum and related species, are very popular in Japan.
Azaleas grow best in well-drained acidic garden soil or in plant pots, in a cool, shady position. Fertilizer is optional, although some species do need regular pruning.
The city of Mobile, Alabama is nicknamed "The Azalea City" for its magnificent azalea bushes which line the city's oldest avenues. Each year, the city selects 50 local, female high school seniors as Azalea Trail Maids, to act as the city's official ambassadors. Each maid wears a pastel antebellum-style dress; however, only the queen is permitted to wear pink. Mobile hosts an annual foot race known as the Azalea Trail Run. Several commercial nurseries in Semmes, Alabama, a suburb of Mobile, are major national suppliers of azaleas in the U.S.
A traditional alcoholic beverage
made from azalea blossoms, called dugyeonju (???, literally "azalea
wine"), is produced in Korea