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What Is a Gumpo Azalea?

Jillian O Keeffe
Jillian O Keeffe

Many different types of azalea plants can be found, and the gumpo azalea is just one subgroup. These plants are small varieties of azaleas, and as such are suitable for garden landscaping. The decorative flowers can be white or pink. Scientists call a gumpo azalea shrub a Rhodedendron eriocarpum Gumpo, but gardeners may also know it by the name Dwarf Indica Gumpo.

This is just one of the dwarf variety groups of azalea, and only grows up to 2 feet (about 60 cm.) A gumpo azalea has many small leaves that are only about one inch (about 25 mm) long and 1/4 inch (about 6mm) wide. The plant is evergreen, so it doesn't lose its leaves over the winter.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

As a landscaping plant, the gumpo azalea doesn't spread to more than 3 feet (about 90cm) in width. This type of azalea can handle the same conditions as other, taller azaleas in general, and likes earth that has a pH or acidity level of between 5.2 and 6.0 to grow in. One difference is that the gumpo azalea is more resistant to sunlight than other azaleas, so it can live in unshaded and partially shaded ground.

Another difference between the small gumpo varieties and other azaleas is that the gumpo blooms about two months after the other azaleas. These flowers occur individually and can be up to 3 inches (about 76 mm) in diameter. Colors are white or pink or a mixture of the two. Garden centers often sell gumpo varieties by the color of the flowers.

Gumpo azaleas are part of the Satsuki group of azaleas, as opposed to the earlier flowering azaleas of the Tsutsuji group. These classifications were created by the Japanese, as Japanese gardeners have grown azaleas for centuries. The Satsuki azaleas may be more suitable for a structured garden design, as the gumpo azaleas tend to grow in a tight format. The later blooming Tsutsuji, with their profusion of flowers in the spring, can be more attractive to gardeners who prefer a colorful, flowery garden.

These plants were part of traditional Japanese horticulture, and made their way into other countries, including the United States, at the beginning of the 20th century. These little versions of azaleas, perhaps due to the environment of their homeland, cannot resist cold as well as most other types of azaleas, and may not be suitable plants for northern countries with cold climates.

Discussion Comments


@Rotergirl: Ever seen the Pride of Mobile azaleas? They're huge! They are as tall as the rooftops of some of the houses where they're planted. I'd never seen any that big until I was actually in

Mobile in the spring and saw them on a garden tour. They're gorgeous. I saw some tiny azaleas that might have been gumpos, but I didn't ask, so I don't know for sure.


I've seen small azaleas, but I don't know if they were the gumpo kind. Most azaleas, unless they've been hybridized, don't do well in really cold weather. I think they're all of Japanese origin, in spite of them being one of the flowers symbolic of the Southeastern United States.

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      Woman with a flower