One of the finest of the deciduous species azaleas is R. schlippenbachii,
native to North Korea and Manchuria where it was first discovered
In its better forms, a well-grown schlippenbachii will be one
of the outstanding treasures in your garden. The more sun the plant
receives in the late spring the heavier will be the flower bud set
for the following year. One of this plant's most charming characteristics
is the leaf color in the fall. If the plant is grown in full shade
the fall leaves will gradually change color from green to a muddy-brown.
However, in a more open exposure the green leaves will change to
a striking red and then yellow as they lose their chlorophyll.
The flowers which are borne in groups of three to six appear in
early April and vary in color from deep pink to light pink to nearly
white, the deeper colors are considered the most desirable. Reddish-brown
dots in the throat of the flowers provide an interesting contrast.
Of utmost importance is where you locate your schlippenbachii.
Give it too much summer sun and the beautiful foliage will be
reduced to an unsightly display. Give it too little sun exposure
and the plant will not flower well and the growth habit will be
drawn up and leggy. In the right situation schlippenbachii will
reward you with a gorgeous floral display in early April and beautiful
foliage the rest of spring, summer and fall. Even in the middle
of winter there is a stark beauty to the branching habit of a well-formed
The usual propagation method is by seed from superior forms. Seedlings
are very vigorous and will bloom in three to four years if grown
in an open, sunny location.