Pink azalea flowers about the end of May as the leaves unfold. The flowers are pink, as the name suggests, with a long tube and stamens, and smell faintly of lemon. In its native habitat in North America the species grows in shady spots in oak and beech forest on the slopes of the Appalachians. However, it is also said to thrive in more open spots in areas with cooler summers – like Finland.
There are several deciduous azalea species which grow naturally in North America, closely resembling each other. These species often hybridise and it can be difficult to determine to which species individual shrubs belong. The pink azalea is said to differ from its closest relative the Piedmont azalea (also called Pinxter azalea, wild azalea, sweet mountain azalea, wild honeysuckle etc) (R. canescens), in that the pink has light down on the flowers, but not the sticky longer hairs found on the Piedmont. The pink azalea’s slender fresh-smelling flowers bring to mind those of the vine honeysuckle Lonicera dioica and are at their best in fairly natural settings, far from the larger-flowered hybrids.