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Southern Stems: Azaleas

by in Inspirations, Main on

We are thick in the middle of pollen season here in Chapel Hill, but I can’t be too depressed about that, since it means things are growing, leafing, and flowering! We’re lucky to have such beautiful blooms in the South, are we not? Including today’s specimen, of course: the azalea!


Azaleas are known as the “royalty of the garden,” which is a pretty awesome thing to be known as, if you ask me. Perhaps it’s because of their jewel-like tones? Azaleas bloom in every shade of red, pink, coral, white, and yellow.

Justin DeMutiis

The Indica azalea is native to Japan, and got its name because, at the time it was discovered, Asia was known as the East Indies. It made its way to the U.S. through Charleston, and as early as 1845, the largest and oldest collection flourished at Magnolia Plantation. Thousands of azaleas still grace their beds today, though only 40 of the 86 original cultivars can be positively identified (fascinating!). I’ve actually been to Magnolia Plantation, though not when the azaleas were blooming, sadly.

Knit, Click, and Stir

Many sources say that azaleas are the most common bush in the South, so if you’re interested in planting some Southern stems in your own yard, these beauties are a great pick! Most varieties like the filtered shade available beneath tall trees, making azaleas a great pick for where grass doesn’t like to grow. These bushes grow to all different sizes and shapes, up to eight to twelve feet tall and wide!

Pink azalea bouquet by Myrtie Blue (photo by Lauren Kinsey) via Wedding Chicks; white azalea bouquet by Flower Wild (photo by Jose Villa); red azalea bouquet by Central Market (photo by Christine Sargologos) via Style Me Pretty; white azalea bouquet by Isari Flower Studio (photo by Luna Photo) via Wedding Chicks

Azaleas are not as commonly used in weddings as other Southern favorites like gardenias are, but I would love to see that change! I think their vibrant colors and pretty trumpet shapes are perfect for bouquets and arrangements.

Orange azalea centerpieces by Christina Leigh Events (photo by Avenue Photography); potted azalea centerpieces by Central Market (photo by Christine Sargologos) via Style Me Pretty; pink azalea centerpiece via Royal Marigold

Even if you don’t end up incorporating azaleas into your bouquets or centerpieces, they make gorgeous backdrops for portraits…

Haley Sheffield, Justin DeMutiis, Jo Photo, and Anna Kirby

Do you love azaleas? Are you using them in your wedding or do you grow them in your yard? I’d love to hear!

Anna Kirby, Christina Leigh Events, Haley Sheffield, Jo Photo, Justin DeMutiis, and Myrtie Blue are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Lauren reply

    I am going to be planting Azaleas as soon as we close on our house!! I’m thinking about planting them right at the ends of the front porch.

  2. avatar Christina L. Frederick reply

    What a fabulous post! I loved the beautiful orange blooms at Tamara and Braden’s wedding and can’t wait until my next bride uses them! I love azaleas and had them growing across the front of our Southern front porch growing up! I have one at my home now and can’t wait to plant more!
    xo Christina – Christina Leigh Events

  3. avatar FEATURED ON RUFFLED & SOUTHERN WEDDINGS » The Photography of Haley Sheffield reply

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