|Though considerable confusion surrounds this species because its former names (which include R. molle, R. molle subsp. japonicum and A. sinensis), R. japonicum refers to a specific deciduous azalea native to the islands of Japan. It is a vigorous, upright shrub of medium height, with oblanceolate leaves 2 to 4 inches long that turn reddish in fall. Flowers are borne in clusters of 6 to 12 widely funnel-shaped blooms in shades of orange, yellow and red, occasionally with a pinkish tinge. R. japonicum can tolerate full sun and is quite hardy.
The deciduous hybrid azalea, like its native counterpart, is known for excellent fall color and unsurpassed spring flowers. The deciduous azalea is usually less picky about soil conditions, though it too prefers acid conditions. Though azaleas have a potentially large list of possible pest and disease problems, they are usually trouble free if planted correctly in proper cultural conditions.