University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

Download PDF
Publication #FPS505

Rhododendron chapmanii Chapman's Rhododendron, Chapman's Azalea1

Edward F. Gilman2


Chapman's rhododendron is listed as one of Florida's rare and endangered plants. This shrub or small tree is also the only native evergreen rhododendron in the entire state of Florida. It grows to a height and width of 3 to 6 feet and has a relatively open and stiffly ascending branching habit. The tiny leaves of this plant are dark green in color and have an elliptic shape. The leaf undersides, petioles and twigs of this charming plant are covered with rust-colored scales. Pink flowers appear on the tips of the branches in the spring before the new shoot growth commences, and small brown capsules appear shortly after flowering ceases.

General Information

Scientific name: Rhododendron chapmanii
Pronunciation: roe-duh-DEN-drun chap-MAN-nee-eye
Common name(s): Chapman's rhododendron, Chapman's azalea
Family: Ericaceae
Plant type: shrub
USDA hardiness zones: 8 through 9 (Fig. 1)
Planting month for zone 7: year round
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Origin: native to Florida
Uses: mass planting; specimen; container or above-ground planter; trained as a standard; attracts butterflies
Availability: grown in small quantities by a small number of nurseries

Figure 1. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Height: 3 to 6 feet
Spread: 3 to 6 feet
Plant habit: round
Plant density: open
Growth rate: slow
Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: obovate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: less than 2 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: pink
Flower characteristic: spring flowering


Fruit shape: elongated
Fruit length: .5 to 1 inch
Fruit cover: dry or hard
Fruit color: brown
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not particularly showy; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems; can be trained to grow with a short, single trunk
Current year stem/twig color: brown
Current year stem/twig thickness: medium


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: acidic; clay; loam; sand
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerances: poor
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: usually not a problem
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Chapman's rhododendron is lovely when planted singly or in a mass beneath canopy trees. The plant can go largely unnoticed for 50 weeks of the year until it flowers.

Place this plant in an area of the landscape that receives partial to full shade. It will be most successful if located on a well-drained, acidic soil. This species is cold hardy throughout Florida.

Chapman's rhododendron may be propagated by seeds or cuttings.

Pests and Diseases

Phytophthora root and stem rot can become a problem. Poorly drained soils, overwatering, and nutrient deficiencies will aid in the development of root rot.

This plant is also bothered by mites, mealy bugs, scale insects and various leaf and flower diseases. The best defense against these problems is to provide good growing conditions.



This document is FPS505, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at


Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.