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Rhododendron Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Rhododendron Flower Meaning and Symbolism

The Rhododendron flower genus contains over 1,000 species of shrub plants, commonly referred to as Azaleas. What is a rhododendron, and what is the Rhododendron meaning? These brightly colored flowers bloom from winter through summer. The King of Shrubs is beloved as one of the best evergreen flower-producing plants. 

What does Rhododendron mean? It can mean beware, danger, elegance, wealth, love, good luck, passion, and abundance. There are many other meanings so keep reading! We even break down the Rhododendron flower meanings by color.

Rhododendron Flower

The Rhododendron flower has many symbols, with both positive and negative associations. The main Rhododendron meanings are:

  • Passion
  • Elegance and wealth
  • Temperance
  • Abundance
  • Taking care of someone
  • Home-sick
  • Temperance
  • Death-threat

But is that all for what does Rhododendron mean? Nope. The flower rhododendron can also be symbolic of wealth and elegance. So you can decorate with a Rhododendron plant for a touch of elegance or bring the luck of wealth your way. 

Brief History and Origin 

The Rhododendron flower contains 1,024 woody deciduous or evergreen plants in the Ericaceae family. The genus name comes from rodon (rose) and dendron (tree) – Greek words translated to Rose Tree. 

In Latin, Rhododendron is the name for an Azalea flower with two groups. The specific group referred to as Rhododendron is the R. pentantheran. 

The difference between Rhododendron and Azalea is that the Azalea group produces medium shrubs with smaller, thinner leaves and 5-stamened funnel flowers.

Azalea means dry in Greek, given to the Rhododendron flower because it prefers quick-draining, light soil.

During the Victorian language of flowers, the Rhododendron definition stood for temperance. So if you carried a dried Rhododendron flower around, it gave you the will to stay sober and modest. 

The Rhododendron flower genus originated in Asia and Africa – most coming from Madagascar, South Africa, or tropical Asia. Dutch botanist and physician Jan Frederik Gronovius discovered and named the flower in 1737. Before this time, the bloom went by the name African Aster.

It traveled to Europe in the form of a pressed flower in 1886, sent to the royal court. Two years later, the first live Rhododendron plants reached London, being released to the public the next year.

Botanical Characteristics of Rhododendron Flower 

What are rhododendrons? The smallest flowers can range from four inches to 40. While the largest rhododendron varieties –  R. protistum var. Giganteum can grow up to 100 feet tall!

These plants produce spirally arranged leathery leaves. The size can go from less than one inch (0.4″ to 0.8″) while the Rhododendron Largest rhododendron leaves can be up to 40″ in the sinogrande varieties of Rhododendron. 

Rhododendron flower colors range from pink, red, purple, or white blooms formed into round clusters. The shape and size of the flower can vary, with many being bow bells rhododendrons with ten stamens (Evergreen).

How to Grow and Care For the Rhododendron Flower

Rhododendron flowers like getting sun but do not prefer warm temperatures. The space should be well-ventilated, with air that doesn’t get dried out or stay still when planted indoors. 

You can bring your plant outdoors in the summer, protected from the midday sun. Never let the soil in a potted Azalea dry completely out. Using a liquid fertilizer can help boost how long the flowers bloom.

When planted outside, choose an airy, half-shady place without direct sunlight. You’ll need acidic humus soils with no traces of lime. Use rainwater when watering, once a week. 

Warning – Toxicity Levels

The consumption of Rhododendron leaves or flowers can cause abnormal heart rate, stomach pains and irritation, and coma.

When Should You Give Someone Rhododendron Flowers?

A bouquet of Rhododendron flowers can be suitable gifts for weddings, funerals, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day. Or you can give it to a friend, colleague, family member, partner, or yourself.

Meaning of Rhododendron Flower

Rhododendron symbolism has associations with negative flower meanings to beware of danger. But it also has lots of positive associations, including wealth, elegance, and passion.  

The Rhododendron colors can also affect the flower’s meaning. What colors do rhododendrons come in? You can get every Rhododendron color of the rainbow. 

Orange, yellow, and red Rhododendron flower meanings are associated with liveliness, strength, and energy.

White Rhododendron

A white rhododendron flower is symbolic of confidence. The white Rhododendron can also mean radiating charm. Rhododendron white flowers can also represent faith, civility, innocence, style, purity, or elegance.

Red Rhododendron 

A red rhododendron is symbolic of good luck, passion, and love. But the Red rhododendron tree represents happiness, sensuality, strong will and emotions, romance, and a deep fictitious temptation. 

Orange or Yellow Rhododendron 

Yellow or orange flowers are often symbolic of future warnings and bad memories. But you can also choose a yellow or orange Rhododendron to wish strength or success to a friend.

Yellow is also commonly used for funerals, used to remember the deceased positively. 

Purple Rhododendron 

The purple rhododendron tree best represents balance, nobility, royalty, and bravery. Or it can mean pride and dignity. It can also convey gratitude and say thank you.

Blue Rhododendron 

Blue Rhododendron represent serenity and peace.

Pink Rhododendron 

Pink rhododendron varieties symbolize compassion, affection, and love (for others or self-love). You can use pink for someone you want to show appreciation, build a long relationship with, and bond – friend, family, or romantic partner.

Symbolism of the Rhododendron Blossom

Dreaming of an Azalea bloom can be your subconscious telling you to stay cautious and alert of danger lurking in your future. 

When used for weddings, a cut Rhododendron blossom sends the message that everything is better together and that you’re looking forward to a shared future. 

The plant color represents nature, while the green of the stems and leaves means health and happiness.

Fun Facts About Rhododendron Flowers

Washington and West Virginia have a Rhododendron state flower – R. maximum (Appalachian mount variant in WV) and R. macrophyllum (Pacific Northwest variation – Washington). In Nepal, the national flower is Rhododendron flowers.

Rhododendrons in India, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim are the state trees. In Himachal Pradesh, India, the pink Rhododendron – Rhododendron campanulatum is the state flower. And also for Nagaland. 

Other Rhododendron facts include fossils found from the Palaeocene Epoch dating the genus of Rhododendron flowers back to the age of dinosaurs. And the Rhododendron is the flower of the Scorpio zodiac sign. 

Rhododendron FAQ

Take a few moments to browse customers’ commonly asked questions about the Rhododendron flower and its symbolism. 

Do Rhododendrons Symbolize Danger?

Among the many symbolisms of Rhododendrons, one meaning is danger.l  

What Flower Is the Symbol of Danger?

One meaning of Rhododendron is to beware of danger.

Which Flowers Symbolize Death?

Past symbolisms of the Rhododendron have associated this flower with a death threat. 

What Is the Symbolism of a Rhododendron Tattoo?

A Rhododendron tattoo can symbolize one’s sacrifice and self-love. People with confidence and strong will choose the intricate motifs. 

Final Thoughts

The Azalea – aka Rhododendron flower – has many meanings and symbols across the globe and throughout history. With so many different signs, you can choose the Rhododendron flower to represent any meaning you want. It makes a fabulous gift for anyone for any occasion.