Why You Might Regret Growing Azaleas Right Next To Your Backyard Pool

The striking beauty of azaleas makes them beloved flowering shrubs among gardeners and landscape designers. Renowned for their stunning blooms, vibrant colors, and lush foliage, these versatile plants add beauty and charm to gardens with their showy flowers and evergreen or deciduous foliage (depending on the variety). Azaleas thrive in rich acidic, well-drained soil and prefer partial shade, making them popular choices for woodland gardens, borders, and foundation plantings. However, while azaleas offer many benefits in terms of landscaping, they may not be the best choice for poolside planting primarily because of their messy bracts or blooms.

Azaleas produce abundant flowers that can drop petals and debris into the pool, creating extra maintenance work and cleanup for owners. The fallen blooms can clog filters, skimmers, and drains, leading to potential pool maintenance issues. Because of their high rate of flower and leaf drop, it may be wise to explore alternative plant options for poolside landscaping. Consider plants with a similar aesthetic effect on the pool landscape minus the potential drawbacks associated with azaleas.

Better alternatives for poolside landscaping

When it comes to poolside landscaping, there are great alternatives to azaleas that offer both beauty and practicality without the messiness, including frangipani or plumeria plants, bird of paradise (Strelitzia spp.), and certain types of succulents. All these plants are also low maintenance and drought tolerant. Frangipani (Plumeria spp.) is synonymous with tropical landscapes, adding a touch of exotic beauty to poolside settings. Their fragrant flowers, which come in various colors like white, yellow, pink, and red, help create a vibrant and inviting atmosphere. These would all be excellent options grown as annuals, since they're tropical plants that won't survive the conditions in zones 6-9, which is where azaleas grow.

For cold-tolerant alternatives to azaleas, consider holly or rhododendron. Both are evergreen shrubs, so you won't have to worry about leaves falling into your pool. You will have to be mindful of blossom drop when rhododendrons finish blooming, but they're still far less messy than azaleas, and will look good year-round. Holly and rhododendrons, like azaleas, prefer acidic soil. 

If shrubs and flowers aren't exactly what you're looking for, consider ornamental grasses. Blue fescue is a good, low-maintenance option.