Sooper Dooper Azalea

April 20, 2010 | By | Comments (10)

Aromi 001
Gorgeous golden-orange blooms. Knock-you-down sweet fragrance. Loves our Southern heat and humidity. Takes full sun and tolerates drought. That’s the basic description for for a great azalea in my back yard, called ‘Aromi Sunrise.’

I bought this plant at a garden center in a 2-gallon pot about 6-7 years ago. It’s now about 6 feet tall and never fails to put on an eye-popping show. Even my wife, Judy, noticed it this year, which astonished me, since she usually passes through the garden muttering, “Plants, plants, plants. Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

This particular azalea was created by Dr. Gene Aromi, a retired educator at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. For years, he’d tried growing the spectacular Exbury hybrid azaleas that come from England. But the Deep South’s heat always did those azaleas in. So he decided to cross them with our native, heat tolerant Florida flame azalea (Rhododendron  austrinum) and Piedmont azalea (R. canescens). The results of his work were a number of outstanding deciduous azaleas that are both cold-hardy and heat-tolerant.


Aromi 003

‘Aromi Sunrise’ Azalea

Other selections of the Aromi Series include ‘Sunny Side-Up’ (golden-yellow with a darker yellow blotch) and ‘Sunstruck’ (pale yellow with a dark yellow blotch). The Confederate Series hybrids, another heat-tolerant group from south Alabama, has similar characteristics. Its most popular selection is ‘Admiral Semmes” (yellow flowers with a deep yellow blotch).

Growing these azaleas is easy. Give them fertile, acid, well-drained soil that contains lots of organic matter. And make sure they get at least a half-day of sun. They won’t bloom well in shade. Expect them to eventually grow 10-12 feet tall.

Look for both Aromi and Confederate azaleas in local garden centers. That’s where I found mine. If yours doesn’t have them, picket them until they do. Rare Find Nursery is a good mail-order source.


  1. Grumpy Gardener (His Grace)

    Gee, I thought goats could eat anything. Oh well — there goes my dream of becoming a goatherder.

    May 9, 2010 at 10:56 am
  2. Rhonda

    Simply gorgeous! Unfortunately they are extremely poisonous to my goats who are card carrying escape artists and have a tendency to nibble everything in sight.
    Take more pictures please, Grumpy? I’ll enjoy your stunning azaleas vicariously 😀

    May 8, 2010 at 7:27 pm
  3. Betsy Jukofsky

    My 30-year-old s[ecimen is a fragrant dramatic tree

    May 6, 2010 at 5:52 pm
  4. Betsy Jukofsky

    My thirty-year-old specimen is a dramatic fragrant tree

    May 6, 2010 at 5:50 pm
  5. Dave

    Very cool, it reminds me of the flame azaleas I used to see when hiking in the Smokey Mountains.

    April 26, 2010 at 3:43 pm
  6. Grumpy Gardener (His Grace)

    Gee, I never thought of it. Guess that’s why I don’t have a second house in Aspen.

    April 24, 2010 at 12:51 pm
  7. CD

    Steve, do you sell prints to the beautiful flowers you photograph.

    April 24, 2010 at 8:47 am
  8. Frances

    Nice to know the heritage of these Aromis, Grumpy. We have Sunstruck and Pink Carousel along with Admiral Semmes, all blooming their hearts out right now in Tennessee. The fragrance of The Admiral is intoxicating.

    April 22, 2010 at 6:47 pm
  9. Jean

    Love it! Garden freak married to a no love for flowers person.
    Happens every time! Azalea pretty too!

    April 22, 2010 at 9:23 am
  10. meghan


    April 20, 2010 at 7:19 pm

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