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Woody > Rhododendron > Rhododendron 'Golden Lights'


'Golden Lights'

Golden Lights Azalea

Origin:  Developed and released by the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in 1986.
            Mike's Opinion

this is Mike


An impressive and an absolutely must-have shrub. It has beautiful colours with vigorous growth, good disease resistance and great autumn foliage colour. It also attracts Hummingbirds.

Michael Pascoe, NDP., ODH., CLT., MSc. (Plant Conservation)


'Golden Lights'
Shrub (deciduous)
USDA Hardiness Zone
4 - 8
Canadian Hardiness Zone
5 - 9
Temperature (°C)
- 34
Temperature (°F)
- 30
1.2 - 1.8 m
1.2 - 1.8 m
Description and Growing Information
Flowering Period
General Description
Hardy ‘Golden Lights’ was tailor-bred for northern areas weather conditions. Flower bud hardiness was developed in Minnesota to survive rough winter’s temperatures that reach as low as -30 °F. The hardy deciduous shrub has amazing flowers in spring before the leaves emerge, is tall and upright in form and has good autumn colour with overall good disease resistance making this a very utilitarian plant.
Golden Lights is a traditional choice for Asian-inspired gardens. Their bold colour is great for reflecting pools and water gardens. The exceptional early spring colour can be used for beds, borders, and foundation plantings. General garden use, mass planting, as an accent, or a naturalistic landscape plant. Anywhere the shrub is planted adds a vibrant burst of colour to the area.
Has a preference for bright, filtered shade to partial shade; ideally in morning sun. Full afternoon sun can result in bleached leaves and shortened flowering period. Provide a well-drained but moist soil, as soppy soils result in root-rot. Golden Lights must have rich, highly acidic and organic humus enriched soil to ensure success with a pH of 4.0 to 5.5. It will benefit from being planted in a sheltered location, and is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. Use plenty of peat moss when planting. Shrubs are extremely cold-hardy, as well as heat and mildew resistant. Consider applying a thick organic mulch around the root zone in winter, that can help retain soil moisture and protect it in exposed locations or colder zones. A pale mulch choice, such as of pine shavings or fir needles, will keep the shallow root system from being overheated. A relatively low maintenance shrub, only prune dead wood and to shape after flowering.
The upright deciduous small mounding shrub has open multi-stems in a more or less rounded form.
ID Characteristic
Branches are covered with large, orange-yellow buds, which burst open revealing radiant yellow trusses each spring with a light fragrance. The green foliage t turns to a spectacular shade of bronze and red in the autumn.
Leaves can get chlorosis (yellowing) of the leaves in alkaline soils.
Bright Lights is a cultivar, so it does not have any natural habitat. Although these shrubs are quite sturdy in the harsh winters, they would not be as reliable in hardiness zones above 8, since they are not bred for heat-hardiness.
Bark/Stem Description
The smooth grey bark is not particularly outstanding.
Flower/Leaf Bud Description
Nice round reddish or orange-yellow buds.
Leaf Description
The attractive dark green ovate narrow leaves last throughout the season, turning a spectacular and outstanding shade of rich red, dark purple and bronze, which light up the landscape during the autumn months. The plant loses its foliage in winter.
Flower Description
Smothered with massive stunning clusters of gold-yellow single trumpet-shaped blooms, the ‘Golden Lights’ funnel-shaped flowers grow up to 1 1.5 cm across, and appear in trusses of up to 12. Moderately fragrant, the shrub blooms from late Spring to early Summer for 2 - 3 weeks. It also has a peach overtone at the ends of the branches in mid spring before the leaves grow.
Fruit Description
The fruit is not ornamentally significant, but is poisonous if ingested.
Colour Description
Grey branches are covered with reddish or orange-yellow buds that open to bright golden, yellow and orange trusses each spring. Attractive dark green leaves that turn red in the autumn.
Notable Specimens
Bred for their extreme cold hardiness, Golden Lights can be found at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
Cox, K. (2005). Rhododendrons & azaleas: A colour guide. Ramsbury: Crowood. Cullen, J., & Garden, E. (2005). Hardy rhododendron species: A guide to identification. Portland, Or.: Timber Press. Reiley, H. (2004). Success with rhododendrons and azaleas (Rev. ed.). Portland: Timber Press.