Encore azalea full sun

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Landscaping with Encore® Azaleas

From their first leaves and flower buds in late winter/early spring through the first hard freeze in autumn, Encore® Azaleas add beauty to both residential and commercial landscapes.

Encore Azaleas’ bright green leaf color throughout most seasons followed by some change of colors in the fall make them a welcome addition to garden spots with exposure to full sun or high filtered shade. Their multi-season flower display makes them one of the most popular landscape shrubs available.

Azaleas are part of the Rhododendron plant family. Most gardening books and many plant sellers still call Azaleas Rhododendrons so when you are deciding where to plant your Encore Azaleas, you can use the same guidance for both. Remember though — Encore Azaleas like more sun than traditional shade-loving azaleas (provide 4-6 hours of sun for optimal blooms).

Consider the preferences of Encore Azaleas

  • Wind protection provided by buildings, large shrubs, evergreen trees or a slope that goes north or east (to protect them from harsh, drying south and west winds);
  • Part-shade is good but it has to balanced with sunlight to produce healthy, flowering Encore Azaleas;
  • Soil that has been prepped with plenty of compost added;
  • Containers (with drainage holes), raised beds or flower beds offering good drainage;
  • Acidic soil with a pH between 5.0 and 5.5

Make an inventory of the plants that already exist on the site and make notes about what you are trying to improve. Look at photos from the previous year and identify bare spots. You may need the multi-season beauty of Encore Azaleas to brighten a bed of trees and shrubs that bloom only in one season.

Select harmonizing colors and a variety of sizes

At the mature height of 2 to 3-feet tall, Dwarf Encore Azaleas are perfect for along paths and in the front of beds. Autumn Starlite™ will spread up to 4-feet wide so leave plenty of room for it to show off those 3-inch flowers.

Intermediate Encore Azaleas grow to an average size of 4 to 5-feet tall. You will want a place of prominence for Autumn Sweetheart™. It has 2.5 inch pink flowers on a 4-foot tall and wide shrub.

Place new shrubs the correct distance apart, with the mature plant width in mind. While you are waiting for them to fill out, you can use garden ornaments, containers and annuals to compensate for any bare spots.

Painting Your Landscape with Encore Azaleas

Think of your yard as a blank canvas just waiting for your inner artist to come out and play. You want gorgeous green foliage all year round to keep your garden lush and lively, but spring through fall, color is king.

Azaleas, bushes in the genus Rhododendron, are among the most popular flowering shrubs. Traditional azaleas decorate your garden with showy spring blossoms in a variety of colors. They are not too demanding, they grow well and look good in a variety of placements, making them endlessly useful in the backyard. You’ll find both evergreen and deciduous varieties available in commerce and both have advantages, but nothing beats the year-round greenery provided by evergreen foliage. Still, many gardeners wish the brilliant spring show provided by azaleas could last longer. It can, with Encore Azaleas. These multi-season blooming azaleas bloom in spring, summer and fall.

With over 30 stunning shades, you’re certain to find plenty of color for the landscape and every one of the Encore Azalea varieties is evergreen too. For instance, it’s normally hard to find evergreen azaleas in shades of orange (but they are out there if you look for them). Autumn Sunburst (from Encore Azaleas) overflows with blooms of coral and white ruffled flowers. Or go for showy Autumn Monarch, a vibrant shrub growing to five feet tall with light foliage and flowers in shades of orange-pink, sprinkled with red.

Picking azaleas that fit your climate, conditions and garden site has never been easier. These super-azaleas are easy to grow and fit most sites. You’ll even find cold-hardy azaleas in this group that thrive down to zone 6, dwarf azaleas that top out at 3 feet or under, and others that shoot up almost as tall as you are. One issue gardeners have had with traditional azaleas is the shrub’s inability to accept direct sunlight. Planting traditional azaleas in full sun is not recommended. They do best when planted in what is known as “high shade,” under the dappled shade of taller trees. A few traditional azalea species can thrive in sun or partial shade, making them more adaptable. That’s another plus of Encore Azaleas: all of the 30 varieties thrive in both full sun and part shade. You can light up your entire yard with their soft glow.

When can you expect your azalea banks to burst into flower? Most azalea varieties bloom for a week or two in mid-April to mid-May, with a few varieties blooming a bit earlier or later. In warmer climates, like the Deep South, a handful of azalea varieties may even bloom again in the fall. Encore Azaleas have been bred with this same reblooming trait for reliable fall blooming in colder regions too. In fact, most Encore Azaleas flower during the entire growing season, blooming profusely in spring, summer and fall. Some – like Autumn Carnation and Autumn Empress – offer a show in winter too, since their foliage turns bronze once flowering ends.

As you can see, azalea shrubs have come a long way. Gone are the days of fleeting spring blooms in whites, purples and reds. Now, with Encore Azaleas in the landscape, you can have so much more for longer periods.

The above article was sponsored by Encore Azalea. The information contained in this article may contain ads or advertorial opinions.

Encore azaleas provide multiseason blooming

Sustainable Landscape News Distributed 11/13/08

By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists

Not so long ago, nursery and landscape professionals, along with the vast majority of home gardeners, were not fully aware of the multiseason blooming potential of many azalea varieties.

Now, professionals and home gardeners alike are learning that several groups of azaleas provide both spring and fall flowering in Louisiana.

These azalea types include the popular Robin Hill azaleas, some of the Satsuki azaleas, Glenn Dale hybrid azaleas and others. The newest group of repeat-blooming azaleas is the popular Encore azalea.

Encores debuted in the late 1990s and are the only patented brand of azaleas to bloom in spring, late summer and fall. Some 23 varieties are now available in a number of different colors. They begin their performance with the spring flowering season. Once this first act of blooming concludes, new shoots begin to grow and set buds. The “encore performance” happens when these buds begin blooming in mid- to late summer.

This unique blooming cycle continues through the fall – the curtain dropping with the onset of cold weather. A new show begins again when these exceptional azaleas flower with traditional spring azaleas, and the process starts over. In some years in South Louisiana, you get blooms on some varieties of Encore azaleas for eight months, although four to six months is more common.

Encore azaleas were developed by Louisiana nursery grower and plant breeder Robert E. “Buddy” Lee of Independence, La. Lee first envisioned Encore Azaleas in the early 1980s when he found a tray of azalea cuttings blooming in the summer sun at his small Louisiana azalea nursery. Inspired, he began crossing traditional spring-blooming azaleas with the rare Taiwanese summer-blooming azalea, Rhododendron oldhamii. After many years, the Encore azaleas were ready for their gardening debut.

Encore azaleas perform best in full sun to light, filtered shade. In Louisiana, most azaleas prefer morning sun with afternoon filtered shade. A minimum of four to six hours of direct sunlight per day is required for good flowering. Care must be taken to prevent exposure to drought or other heat-related stress conditions associated with full-sun exposures. Too much shade, however, can result in skipped or significantly reduced blooming.

Unless your site has excellent drainage, a raised bed is best for growing azaleas in most areas of Louisiana. Make sure you know the pH of the soil in the bed where you plant azaleas. Azaleas prefer a soil pH of 5.5. A soil pH above 6.5 may present problems for azaleas.

Water azaleas well when you first plant them. Keep soil moist but avoid creating a constantly wet soil with frequent watering. Monitor watering carefully. New azaleas will die quickly if the soil dries excessively. Azaleas should not need regular watering after the first year except during periods of drought.

Fertilize with the recommended levels of a slow-release fertilizer in the spring after flowering is complete. Ironite or other fertilizers with micronutrients may help azaleas keep a greener color. Light fertilization may also be needed in mid- to late summer.

Like other hardy landscape shrubs, azaleas do well when they are planted in the fall. Garden centers have the most azaleas available in the spring, but fall is the best time to plant. Fall planting allows the plants to establish with less stress, and new roots produced in the fall will help the azalea flourish in the next growing season. Although less watering is necessary during the winter season, do not allow the roots to become dry. A 2- to 3-inch layer of pine straw is an excellent mulch to help maintain soil moisture and aid in weed suppression.

A frequent question is when to prune multiseason azaleas. Most Encores and other types require very little pruning to retain good form and maintain the desired size. If you think your azaleas need pruning, do so immediately after the spring flowering. Light pruning of more established plants at that time can stimulate growth and flowering.

Encore azaleas are great plants for Louisiana landscapes. With 23 varieties, you can select plants for small growth habit, along with intermediate and larger growth habits. Colors are available to suit virtually any color scheme, including reds, oranges, pink, blush, white, purple, lavender. Some types even produce different colored flowers on the same plant.

The LSU AgCenter has planted Encore azaleas at LaHouse in Baton Rouge and test plots at the Burden Center in Baton Rouge and at the Hammond Research Station in Hammond.

Come to LaHouse in Baton Rouge to see sustainable landscape practices in action. LaHouse is located near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (La. Highway 30) in Baton Rouge across the street from the new LSU baseball stadium. For more information, go to www.louisianahouse.org and www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.

Additional information on home landscaping from the LSU AgCenter can be found at www.lsuagcenter.com and www.louisianahouse.org.

Growing Rhododendrons & Azaleas in Your Garden

Learn how to plant, prune and care for rhododendron and azalea plants By Sarah Hutchinson

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The rhododendron—from the Greek rhodon (rose) and dendron (tree)—is an acid-loving woody shrub with colorful flower clusters.

  • Basics
  • Planting
  • Care

Photo by: Giles Barnard.

Zones:

Rhododendrons can be grown in Zones 4-9; however, the most variety is available in Zones 5-8.

Rhododendron types:

There are eight subgenera of rhododendrons to choose from—some are tall like trees, others are more bush-like, some are evergreen others are deciduous.

Here are the five most commonly sold types of rhododendrons:

  • Azaleas (deciduous and evergreen)
  • Species rhododendrons
  • Elepidotes (meaning leaves without scales)
  • Lepidotes (meaning leaves with scales)
  • Vireya (tropical and often epiphytic)

Height/Spread:

The mature size of a rhododendron varies depending on the species and cultivar. Some are as small as 18-inches by 18-inches, while others grow to 20-feet by 20-feet. “It used to be that everything would be six feet and taller after ten years,” says Michael Martin Mills, former president of the Greater Philadelphia chapter of the ARS. “Nowadays, you can even find elepidotes that will be no more than three feet tall in that time.”

Bloom time:

Peak bloom generally occurs in midspring; however, some rhododendrons bloom as early as March and others bloom as late as July.

Flower color:

Rhododendrons offer a virtually unlimited palette of floral color. Their colorful flower clusters, known as trusses, come in many hues: pink, white, reddish-purple, deep crimson, blue, and yellow.

Exposure:

Rhododendrons do best in partial shade or filtered light, especially those with large leaves. Tiny-leaved alpine and dwarf species are best in bright sun.

Climate:

The damp, mild climate of the Pacific Northwest is perfect for growing rhododendrons; while, growing rhododendrons in colder climes, especially the Northeast, can be a challenge. “We often envy people out West because they can grow things we can’t,” says Philadelphia’s Michael Martin Mills. “A lot of Asian species and their hybrids can’t survive our cold winters.”

Whether you live in a mild, cold or hot climate will determine what time of year is best for planting rhododendrons. Photo by: John Swithinbank / Alamy Stock Photo.

When to plant:

The American Rhododendron Society (ARS) recommends the following planting times based on your climate.

  • Mild climates: Rhododendrons and azaleas can be planted year-round
  • Cold climates: Early spring planting is best, with early fall planting a good second choice
  • Hot climates: Fall planting allows the plant’s root system to establish during the cooler months

Where to plant:

In addition to filtered shade and good drainage, pick a spot with protection from the wind. The ARS recommends that you avoid planting rhododendrons near concrete because it creates alkaline soil conditions that are detrimental to their development. Furthermore, don’t plant “rhodies” near other surface roots that compete for space, water and nutrients

Soil:

Rhododendrons thrive in acidic soils (pH 6 and lower) that are light, well drained, and rich in organic matter. “They actually like to grow on top of the landscape, as opposed to deep in the ground,” says Jenkins Arboretum’s Harold Sweetman. Amending the soil with organic matter such as leaf mulch or fine bark will help both the acidity and drainage.

Planting tips:

  • Water your rhododendron thoroughly before planting
  • Loosen the root system prior to placing the plant in the ground to stimulate new root growth
  • Position the crown of the root ball a few inches higher than the surrounding soil
  • Space plants according to their mature size
  • Avoid smothering the trunk of your rhododendron with mulch

When deadheading, be careful not to remove the buds or shoots below the flower cluster. Photo by: Agencja FREE / Alamy Stock Photo.

Watering:

Due to their shallow, fine roots, rhododendrons require regular watering through dry periods. They will show signs of drought stress much sooner than plants with deeper roots. Keep the soil consistently damp, but don’t let it become soggy.

Mulching:

Mulch with compost, bark chips, or pine needles to prevent weeds, since hoeing can easily damage a rhododendron’s surface roots. Mulching also helps retain moisture. Replenish the mulch annually, or as needed.

Pruning:

Rhododendron shrubs can be pruned to show off their sculptural trunks or to give an arched or cascading effect. Do your pruning right after they finish blooming and be careful not to cut off next year’s buds (rhododendrons bloom on old wood).

Fertilizing:

Proper soil preparation before planting, along with regular mulching with organic material means extra fertilizer is usually unnecessary. If you think your soil is no longer up to par, apply a fertilizer designed for acid-loving plants in late winter or early spring. If you’re having a specific problem, check out these recommendations from ARS.

On this page I will do my level best to share with you 23 of the best landscaping design ideas that I’ve used over the years. Many of these photos are from my yard, but I will probably include designs from other places that I’ve been involved with as well. Let’s start with this. A Landscape Design Idea for the Outside Corner of a Sidewalk.

Landscape Design Idea for the Outside of a Sidewalk.

Contrary to popular believe landscape designs don’t always have to be balanced all in proportion. A couple of important aspects of landscape design are specimen plants, accent plants and repetition. Repetition is really important. You can repeat themes and switch out plants and it will “feel” different but at the same time fit together seamlessly.

This design features two Japanese maples as specimen plants and a variety of color plants as accent plants, with repetition. The Japanese maple closest to us in this photo is a Laceleaf Weeping Japanese Red Maple. The variety is ‘Crimson Queen’. The Japanese maple in the back of the photo, the one furthest from us is an upright Japanese Maple, the variety is ‘Butterfly’. Even though ‘Butterfly’ is an upright growing Japanese maple it is a slow grower and in this situation my wife and I keep it trimmed so it doesn’t hover over the sidewalk and block the view as you walk down the sidewalk.

Left untrimmed or lightly trimmed, ‘Butterfly’ would grow to a height of 10′ or more. The greenish blue evergreens that you see repeated in this design are Table Top Juniper. There are a lot of Junipers to choose from, and most of them I do not like at all. ‘Table Top’ is an exception to that rule. It is low growing, slower growing than many, and very easy to maintain. Two of my other favorite Junipers are ‘Blue Rug’ and ‘Green Mound’.

I urge you to not select plants that “look just like” any one of these. Chances are they will not perform the same and in my very opinionated opinion many of them quickly become “Jungle like”! Blue Rug Juniper and Green Mound Juniper are very low growing and ground hugging. They both grow into an evergreen ground cover, much like carpeting. They keep the weeds out and look great. I often use them under Japanese maples.

Landscaping Secret #30: Don’t Use Plastic Edging—This Is WAAAY Easier and Looks So Much Better…

Blue Star Juniper is another nice Juniper. I used Blue Star Juniper in this planting at the nursery.

Back to the landscape design photo shown above.

Notice that I used the Table Top Juniper on both ends of this planting and I used three of them in each place. Plants are much more effective when you use them in multiple numbers and it’s usually easier to work them into the planting if you use odd numbers. A “loose” landscape design rule to follow is . . .

Plant in Groupings of Odd Numbers and Repeat the Groupings When Possible.

Like I said, this is a “loose rule to follow”. Don’t get all caught up in trying to make it perfect. If you follow my suggestions loosely it will look great! I promise!

A colorful landscape design idea for a sidewalk planting.

From another angle you can see the Japanese maples and the accent plants used in this design. The colorful plants used as accent plants in this landscape design are Coral Bells, botanical name Heuchera. Now this is where the so called landscaping or plant experts like to slap me around. They say things like; “Mike, you can’t plant Coral Bells in the sun!” And they are usually pretty mean about it. I know that. But I did, and I do and it works out just fine for me and the Coral Bells. So here’s my advice about that. There are rules written by so called experts, then there are proven, practical, boots on the ground, things that people like me know work, because we’ve actually done it and not just researched and written about it.

Using Heuchera, Coral Bells, in a Landscape Planting.

Coral Bells are shade loving, shade tolerant plants. But those with dark colored leaves do perfectly fine in the sun. as a matter of fact, most Coral Bells do fine for me in the sun except the ones with a lot of yellow in the leaves. I have some with a burnt orange colored leaf and they love the sun! Those with yellow, yellow leaves like Huechera Citronelle will not tolerate the sun. Amber Waves did okay for me in the sun, but not great. Heuchera ‘Caramel’ which is burnt orange loves the sun! There’s a photo of ‘Caramel’ at the top of this post. Looking at the photo below you can see some Heuchera ‘Caramel’ in the planting on the other side of the sidewalk.

Using Heuchera, Coral Bells to add color to a landscape design.

Using Evergreen Azaleas in a Landscape Design.

Evergreen Azaleas in a Landscape Design.

To me, Evergreen Azaleas are amazing plants. They are like a sleeper in the landscape. If you look closely you can see the Evergreen Azaleas in the center of this planting. There they are, nondescript, just “chillin in the landscape”, doing nothing to attract any attention to themselves. Then all of a sudden, around Mother’s Day, boom! They burst into bloom with a display of the most striking, vivid flowers imaginable.

Landscaping Secret #5: Forget About Plastic Weed Barrier—Use My Newspaper Trick Instead…

Evergreen Azaleas laying in wait in this landscape planting.

I’m serious when I say that Evergeen Azaleas totally amaze me. I’m in northern Ohio, zone 5. The USDA says I’m in zone 6, they recently changed it, and they are completely wrong about that. We are still zone 5. Sure we had a number of mild winters, until the winter of 2013/2014. This winter? Bitter cold, 15 degrees below zero, below zero many days, down in the single digits much of the winter, even mid March. To me that is zone 5 for sure! Good. Got that off my chest! Looking at the Evergreen Azaleas in this landscape planting it’s easy to wonder why they are even there. At the end of winter the leaves are always brown, burnt from the cold of the winter, the plants look dead, then all of a sudden, seemingly out of the blue, they explode into bloom commanding attention, proving they’ve earned a place in the landscape planting. I need to add some photos to this page of the azaleas in bloom. Remind me of that in May will ya?

Using Butterfly Japanese Maple in a landscape Design.

Using ‘Butterfly’ Japanese maple in a landscape design.

I have to devote at least on paragraph to this ‘Butterfly’ Japanese Maple. This is by far one of my favorite plants, but then again, I have a lot of “favorite plants”. Butterfly Japanese maple is an upright growing variety. It has green and white, variegated, delicately cut leaves with pinkish edges. The growth comes out pink then turns to pink, white and green. This is a crazy beautiful plant. Like most Japanese maples it is rated for hardiness zones 5 through 8. In zone 8 most need some shade, but in zones 5 and 6 most do pretty well in full sun after they are established. If you have a really small Japanese maple, put it in an area where it can get a little shade for the first few years. Hey look what I found! This is a video of my favorite Japanese maples. The sound wasn’t great, it was windy, I think I shot this video by myself, but what’s interesting is that many of the plants that I’ve just shown you you will see in this video when they were smaller.

Mike McGroarty’s Favorite Japanese Maples.

Landscaping Ideas for an Island Planting in the Front Yard.

Island plantings can really add some sparkle to any front yard. This is an island planting right in front of our house. After this photo was taken we made some minor changes to this planting so I’ll explain how it was when this photo was taken and what improvements we’ve made to it.

Landscaping Secret #6: Do NOT Fertilize Your Landscape Plants! Use This One Ingredient Instead…

Landscaping idea for an island planting.

This planting is pretty simple. Two specimen trees, three different kinds of Huechera and some tulip bulbs that you can’t see in this photo. The green tree to the left is a Lavender Twist Red Bud Tree. Very much a weeping tree with green heart shaped leaves all summer, but covered with Tiny Lavender flowers in the spring.

Laceleaf Japanese Red maple used in a front yard island planting.

The little red tree to the right is a Laceleaf Weeping Japanese Red Maple, the variety is ‘Crimson Queen’. There are three different kinds of Heuchera in this planting as well. To the right the dark ones are ‘Midnight’ in the middle ‘Caramel’ and to the left a variety with green and white variegated leaves and I don’t remember the actual variety, I planted these a long time ago and they were patented so I don’t propagate them.

Huechera and Lavender Twist Weeping Redbud used in an island planting.

After this photo was taken we removed a number of thee Heuchera because they had gotten so large and we opened up some areas where we are likely to plant some Blue Rug Juniper. On this page, almost to the bottom of the page you can see a thick planting of Blue Rug Juniper under a Japanese maple tree.

Landscape Design Ideas for a Large Corner Planting Bed.

Our home sits on a corner lot. This bed sits in the corner, just a few feet from the sidewalk. This is a large bed, probably at least 40 or 50 feet in length by 15 or 20 feet wide.

A corner landscape planting featuring a Royal Red maple tree.

You can’t see it well in this photo but the large tree closest to us is a Royal Red maple tree. Royal Red is very much like Crimson King maple. So much so that few could ever tell them apart. As you will see in the rest of the photos and I bordered the front side (street side) of this bed with Variegated Lirope. Those are the little flowers you see in the foreground of this photo.

Landscaping Secret #28: Stay Away from Red Mulch, Black Mulch, and Brown Mulch—Use This Mulch Instead…

This is a better photo of the Royal Red maple tree.

Royal Red maple tree used in a corner planting.

Groups of Heuchera (Coral Bells) in a landscape planting.

This bed has a little bit of everything. Group plantings of a number of different Heuchera, roses, miniature roses, two unusual Japanese maples and a Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick trained into a single stem plant. You can see the Harry Lauder’s just on the right hand edge of the above photo.

Single stem Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick and Goshiki Shidare Japanese maple used in a corner planting.

In the above photo you can see the single stem Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick and the Goshiki Shidare Japanese maple. Goshiki Shidare is a weeping Japanese maple with variegated leaves. Early in the spring it looks almost pink.

Orange Dream Japanese maple used a corner landscape planting.

With this photo we are looking at the opposite end of the bed from the Royal Red maple tree. The little yellow tree you are looking at in this photo is an Orange Dream Japanese maple. I love this tree! On this page you can see a close up of the leaves of this amazing little tree. Since this photo was taken Pam and I removed the Caramel Huechera from this end of the bed because after a few years the bed looked just way too cluttered and we the Orange Dream Japanese maple is the specimen plant at this end of the bed. We wanted it to really stand out and show itself off!

Again you can see the Variegated Lirope as they wrap around each end of the bed. The photo below shows them across the front (street or sidewalk side) of the bed.

Variegated Lirope, Miniature Roses and Goshiki Shidare Japanese maple in a corner landscape planting.

Goshiki Shidare, a weeping Japanese maple used as a specimen plant in a landscape planting.

Isn’t that Goshiki Shidare just a wonderful little tree? I have three of them in the landscaping around our house. If you look closely you can see another against the garage wall. That one is a bit taller. As you can see there are many Miniature Roses throughout this landscape design.

Landscaping Secret #29: Using Compost In Your Landscape Attracts Weeds—Here’s How You Should Use It…

But there are five sleeper plants in this planting as well. Have you noticed them?

Endless Summer Hydrangea and Evergreen Azaleas hiding in this landscape planting until it is their time to shine.

It’s difficult to see in this photo, but if you watch the video you can probably see them better. There are two Endless Summer Hydrangea in the middle of this landscape design and there are also five Evergreen Azaleas. The Azaleas are planted in an arc that somewhat wraps around the Goshiki Shidare Japanese maple. Most of the time they are unnoticable, but when they are bloom they jump out and say; “Look at me!”

When designing landscapes I almost always use shrubs planted in an arc. It’s important to use an odd number, I usually use 5 or 7 plants to make my arcs. The odd number really helps because you really need a back, center plant in order to lay the arc out easily. In an arc I often use Japanese Holly or English Holly like Blue Boy and Blue Girl or Blue Prince and Blue Princess.

With English hollies you need both male and female plants but you really only need one male plant in the arc. I make that the center plant in the arc, the rest are all red berry producing female plants.

Okay, I am going to wrap this post up. I hope you’ve found it useful, mildly entertaining, but most of all I hope I’ve given you some landscape design ideas that you can use.

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How to grow Azaleas in Arkansas

Azaleas are one of our most loved southern landscape plants! When properly planted and cared for, they provide both an excellent evergreen presence and eye-catching blooms. A quick note; native azaleas are not evergreen but their stunning blooms more than make up for lack of winter leaves!

Choosing an azalea Native and old fashioned azaleas such as formosas and gumpos require afternoon shade; plant in a location with morning sun or dappled afternoon sun should be fine for these varieties. Encore azaleas are very popular; they are called Encore because they bloom in the spring and then again in the fall. Encores can take more sun but will require more water than if planted in a more shady area. All azaleas will do better with afternoon shade here in Arkansas.

Planting Proper placement of azaleas is key; watch the area to see how much sun it receives before choosing your plants. Azaleas also require well drained, slightly acidic soil. The best formula formula for successful azalea planting here in central Arkansas includes:

  • Doing a soil test to learn pH; soils tend to be acidic here but checking is recommended
  • Amending the soil by adding organic matter (such as Organic Compost) to increase soil drainage
  • Applying Good Earth brand Jump Start with mycorrhizea for best root establishment
  • Planting with the root ball slightly above grade (about an inch)
  • Add mulch
  • Watering thoroughly at planting and regularly thereafter
  • Keep mature plant size in mind; azaleas need good air flow to cut down on insect issues

Care Although azaleas like well drained soil, they require regular watering. Plan to hand water your plants if the area isn’t watered by a sprinkler system. Regular watering with alkaline water can alter the soil pH; perform a soil test occasionally. Fertilize with Ferti-Lome Azalea/ Evergreen Food with Systemic Insecticide after the spring bloom season has ended. Another good product for azaleas is Espoma Holly-Tone, which is an all natural fertilizer for acid loving plants. This will both feed and protect your azaleas from their most common pest, the lacebug. After spring bloom is also the time to prune. Azaleas have a wonderful natural form so it’s best to work with that when pruning. Look for the tallest branches that need trimming back and follow the branch down under the canopy height you are trying to keep. Prune just above a fork in the branch to encourage further branching. As a good rule of thumb, do not remove more than 30% of the plant at any one time. Since azaleas should be pruned mostly for shaping reasons, this shouldn’t be an issue.

FAQs

    When should you plant Encore Azaleas?
    How do you water Encore Azaleas?
    When do you prune Encore Azaleas?
    When do you fertilize Encore Azaleas and with what?
    Where can I buy Encore Azaleas?
    How much sunlight do Encore Azaleas need?
    Are Encore Azaleas evergreen?
    Is there a natural fertilizer that I could make to ensure the soil has the proper PH?
    Is there an Encore Azalea dwarf variety?
    What is the mature Encore Azalea size?
    What is the growth rate of Encore Azaleas?
    When should I transplant Encore Azaleas?
    My Encore Azaleas are not blooming. What is wrong?
    Will Encore Azaleas thrive in Zones 5 and 6?
    What Encore Azalea varieties fair well in full sun garden?
    Do Encore Azaleas need irrigation?
    At what temperature should I cover my Encore Azaleas to protect them from cold weather conditions?

When should you plant Encore Azaleas?

In most of the country, you can plant Encore Azaleas in spring, summer or fall; check out our water instructions for more tips on establishing your new Encore Azaleas.

If planting in spring, do wait until after the fear of frost has passed. Fall is also a great time of year to plant your Encore Azalea. This will give the plant time to get its root system established before it begins to concentrate on blooming in the spring.

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How do you water Encore Azaleas?

During the hot summer months, and especially during their first year in the ground when the root system is developing, azaleas need plenty of water. Make sure to thoroughly soak the root ball twice per week, allowing the moisture to seep 2″ deep. (After the first year when the roots are fully established, they won’t need as much water.) It is important to have good drainage around your Encores so that water does not stand around the fibrous root ball; the shallow, fibrous roots like to dry out a little in between waterings. If the roots get too much water, root rot can set in, and the moisture won’t be delivered to the upper plant. Because damp or dry weather will dictate how much water your Encores need, monitor your waterings carefully to find the right balance; don’t depend on scheduled watering.

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When do you prune Encore Azaleas?

Encores require very little pruning to retain good form and do not need “dead-heading.” If you think your Encore Azalea needs pruning, do so immediately after the spring flowering for maximum bud set. If you wait until later in the year, it is likely that the buds for the next bloom cycle will be trimmed off and a disruption in the bloom cycle will occur. Light pruning of more established plants will stimulate growth and flowering. Use hand trimmers to selectively shape your Encore Azaleas.

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When do you fertilize Encore Azaleas and with what?

Like all living things, Encore Azaleas must be fed. When it comes to fertilizer, there is no specific brand that we recommend. You can ask at your local garden center for a well-balanced, slow release, granular azalea/camellia fertilizer. You can tell if the mix is well-balanced if the three numbers on the packaging are the same or similar. These numbers indicate the amount of nitrogen (promotes plant growth and for foliage), phosphorus (promotes blooms), and potassium (strengthens roots and stems). Whatever brand you choose, apply according to label instructions around the base of the shrub, and water well. Fertilize once at the beginning of each spring — after the fear of frost has passed. You may find that this will be the only time you need to fertilize. However, if you feel you need to fertilize again, do so before August. Azaleas are sensitive to heavy fertilization. Fertilizing after August will encourage new, tender growth that can be damaged by early frost. For an added nutrient boost you can also apply liquid fertilizer directly to the foliage and roots. Just follow label directions and use once every two weeks or so.

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Where can I buy Encore Azaleas?

You can find a list of retailers in your area which regularly stock Encores by visiting our website at www.encoreazalea.com, clicking on “Where to Buy” in the sidebar, and then entering your zip code. Or you may decide to buy online. If your local garden center does not currently stock Encore Azaleas, ask them to!

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How much sunlight do Encore Azaleas need?

Encores are very adaptable when it comes to sunlight. Encore Azaleas perform well in many locations – full sun, part sun and part shade. More light typically means more blooms. The ideal planting environment provides 4-6 hours of direct or filtered sunlight, with some shade during the afternoon heat.
Encore Azaleas may require midday and afternoon shade in areas like the deep South, Southwest and Southern California, where sun and heat are more intense.

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Are Encore Azaleas evergreen?

All Encore Azaleas are evergreens, so they’ll keep their foliage year round. Some of the varieties even have foliage that deepens into contrasting colors with cooler temperatures – check out Autumn Amethyst, Autumn Princess, Autumn Sundance for a great way to provide a splash of color to your garden even during winter months.

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Is there a natural fertilizer that I could make to ensure the soil has the proper PH?

Like all azaleas, Encore Azaleas require a slightly acidic soil. Adding humus, pine straw or pine mulch, and/or peat moss will bring the pH in your soil down some, as will an acidifying fertilizer from your local garden center. For best results, I suggest contacting a local nursery or garden center, who will be more familiar with the conditions in your area, and might assist you in taking a soil sample, and make suggestions specific to your area and according to your planting needs.

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Is there an Encore Azalea dwarf variety?

All 31 varieties have been bred to have a more compact growth habit than their traditional cousins. Many of our varieties grow to an easily maintainable 2-3’ tall x 3-4’ wide; see our Encores By Size page for more information.

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What is the mature Encore Azalea size?

Encore varieties can grow to between 2.5 and 5.5 feet. View Encore Azaleas by Size to see the mature sizes for all 31 varieties. Since plants don’t ever stop growing, the “mature size” listed in the Encore Azalea literature is not a maximum height, but a size that is easily maintainable through yearly pruning. We suggest cleaning out old leaves to allow foliage to flush out and using hand trimmers to prune off any tall shoots back inside the body of the plant. For overall shaping, we have found that trimming immediately after the spring bloom cycle is the best time. Pruning immediately after the spring bloom will limit disruption of future bloom cycles. Pruning later in the year will remove the buds that have set for the next bloom cycle.

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What is the growth rate of Encore Azaleas?

How fast your Encore Azaleas will reach their mature size depends upon what size you start off with. Depending on where you purchase your Encores, they may be in a one-gallon nursery container, three-gallon, five-gallon, or seven-gallon. The one-gallons are the youngest plants and will take the longest to reach full size (five or six years). The seven-gallons are the most mature, but will still take three or four years to reach mature height.

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When should I transplant Encore Azaleas?

Fall is the best time to transplant your Encores, but this can be done in Spring, Summer, or Fall, using the same care you did when planting. Make sure to dig a big enough area to include the fibrous root system, which will have spread out some. A general guide is that the root system will be about as big under the ground as the upper plant is above ground. You may notice that the bloom cycle may be erratic in the year following a transplant; this will correct itself as your Encores get settled into their new environment. Moving is stressful for plants as well as humans! Make sure they get enough water the first few weeks after their move.

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My Encore Azaleas are not blooming. What is wrong?

There are several reasons why your Encore Azaleas may not bloom for a season; if you do not find your answer below, please contact us.

Sometimes when you plant new plants they can go through a shock period where they have to adapt to their new environment. These plants, in general, have two phases — growing and flowering. It sounds like your plants are in good health and growing fine. Nothing needs to be done and they should bloom again in the fall. It is not unnatural for them to skip a cycle because of being newly planted.

Since all 31 varieties of Encore Azaleas have been bred to bloom in three seasons, they need extra sun to do so. Make sure that your Encores are getting at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight per day (this is crucial for blooms). They perform best in sun to partial shade, preferably afternoon partial shade. Each variety of Encore has a different personality, some blooming earlier, longer, or more profusely.
If your Encore shrubs are healthy and growing, but not producing blooms, you might want to try a fertilizer to promote blooms. Encores are treated with fertilizers before they are shipped out from the nursery, so we do not recommend fertilizing within the first year. However, if they are approaching a year old, you might want to fertilize with a product with a higher middle number (indicating phosphorus content) which will promote more blooms. Fertilizing with a mixture that is heavy on the nitrogen will promote growth rather than blooms.

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Will Encore Azaleas thrive in Zones 5 and 6?

Most Encore Azalea varieties have demonstrated that they can thrive in zone 6, and some may also grow well in zone 5, although they will need a bit more protection. Two facts to consider when planting: 1. Be sure that your Encore Azaleas receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. 2. Planting in spring or early summer is advised. As your Encores mature and get more established in their environment, they will be better able to withstand cold temperatures. Young plants are more susceptible to sudden, drastic drops in temperatures, and sustained cold weather (25 degrees or below).

For More Cold Protection: Mulch well (about 4 inches deep) in the fall. Reduce water for a month or so before the first frost. Then, after a couple of hard freezes, water well to provide moisture. This will help the plants to go dormant, or “harden off”. As you would with any outdoor ornamental plants, Encore Azaleas may need some extra protection during sudden freezes and extremely cold weather. Sudden, drastic drops in temperature are more damaging than a gradual decline, especially to newly planted shrubs. Burlap, old blankets, or sheets (any cloth material) can be used to cover upper plants. It is recommended that you drive stakes in the ground around your Encore and drape the cloth cover over stakes. Foliage in contact with the cover can be injured, so try to minimize cover contact with the plant. You can also try Encore Azaleas in containers so that you can bring them inside in extremely cold weather.

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What Encore Azalea varieties fair well in full sun garden?

All varieties do wel in full sun if care is taken to follow the cultural practices found here. Special attention to watering is critical. Plants must not be allowed to become dry. Autumn Sundance growing 3.5′ tall by 4′ wide or Autumn Empress growing 4′ tall by 3′ wide are great options. Both of these Encores perform very well in full sun conditions. Make sure to plant a few inches above ground level. Amending the soil with Canadian Peat Moss & Pine Bark Mulch. These 2 ingredients ensure that Encores will thrive.

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Do Encore Azaleas need irrigation?

Encore Azaleas are not drought tolerant and should receive supplemental water the first year until established. Special care must be taken the first year to make sure plants do not become too dry. Established Encore Azaleas need very little supplemental irrigation.

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At what temperature should I cover my Encore Azaleas to protect them from cold weather conditions?

When the temperature suddenly drops and maintains 25 degrees or below, provide additional protection by driving stakes into the ground around the plants and draping material over the stakes. Choose burlap or any cloth material so the azalea receives air flow. Be sure the cover does not have direct contact with the plants as this can injure the foliage. Cover is especially beneficial for new azaleas or azaleas that were recently transplanted and have not had enough time to establish a strong root system.

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Planting Encore® Azaleas

To ensure success, Encore® Azaleas must be planted correctly. Here are tips for planting these multi-season blooming shrubs.

Planting Steps:

  1. Turn the soil well and dig a hole twice as wide as it is deep.
  2. Mix some organic material with some soil. Put a little bit of this mixture into the hole.
  3. Remove the azalea from its container and loosen the root ball lightly with your fingers.
  4. Set the plant into your prepared hole, making sure the top of the root ball is slightly above soil level. Make sure the root ball is moist.
  5. Pull the soil around the plant, water thoroughly and cover with mulch.

Key Features:

  • Encore Azaleas perform best in sun to high filtered shade. Four to six hours of sun or filtered shade per day will help guarantee optimal blooms.
  • Dry, windy conditions and severe drought can impact performance, but once established, Encore Azaleas are tolerant of more intense stresses.
  • Best in USDA Zones 6-9. For zones 5-6, introduce in a sheltered location during spring.

Tips:

  • Encore Azaleas will suffer or die if planted too deeply. Plant them so that the top of the root ball is even with or slightly above the existing soil level.
  • Spring planting requires watering well. Keep soil moist until winter.
  • Newly planted azaleas require routine watering the first year, but once established, do not require frequent watering. Cover young azaleas in extreme conditions. do not fertilize until after the last frost.
  • Remember to water in times of drought.

For additional planting tips, watch this how-to video featuring Buddy Lee, the inventor of Encore Azaleas:

For more garden ideas, click here.

To browse the full Encore Azalea collection, click here.

Encore Azalea is the best azalea you’ll ever plant. Encore Azaleas are the world’s best-selling re-blooming azalea with rich, colorful blooms in spring, summer and fall. Encore Azaleas have 31 varieties of bloom colors and sizes to choose from and thrive equally well in high filtered shade or sunny locations – unlike any other azalea in the world. Find a retailer near you.

Encore varieties lead multi-season azaleas

News Release Distributed 02/25/10

Until recently, many home gardeners didn’t know much about the multi-season blooming potential of some of the newer azalea varieties.

“We have many groups of azaleas that provide spring and fall flowering in Louisiana,” says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings. “These include the popular Robin Hill series, some of the Satsuki azaleas, GlennDale hybrid azaleas and others. The newest of the repeat-blooming azaleas is the popular Encore azaleas.”

Encore Azaleas debuted in the late 1990s and are the only patented azaleas to bloom in spring, summer and fall, Owings says.

They begin their performance with the spring flowering season. Once this “first act” of blooming concludes, new shoots begin to grow and set buds. The Encore azalea’s “second act” opens when these buds begin blooming into full flower in mid-summer.

“This unique bloom season continues through the fall, and the curtain doesn’t drop until the onset of cold weather,” Owings says.

But, the show goes on. As an “encore,” these exceptional azaleas flower again with traditional spring azaleas, and the process starts over.

“In some years in south Louisiana, you get blooms on some varieties of Encore azaleas for eight months, although four to six months is more common,” Owings says.

Encore azaleas were developed by Louisiana nursery grower and plant breeder Robert E. “Buddy” Lee of Independence.

Lee first envisioned Encore azaleas in the early 1980s when he found a tray of azalea cuttings blooming in the summer sun at his small Louisiana azalea nursery. Inspired, he began crossing traditional spring-blooming azaleas with the rare Taiwanese summer-blooming azalea, Rhododendron oldhamii. After many years, the Encore azaleas were ready for their gardening debut.

Encore azaleas perform best in full sun to light, filtered shade, Owings says. In Louisiana, most azaleas prefer morning sun with afternoon filtered shade. A minimum of four to six hours of direct sunlight per day is required for good flowering.

“Care must be taken to prevent exposure to drought or other heat-related stress conditions associated with full-sun exposure,” Owings says. “However, too much shade can result in skipped or significantly reduced bloom cycles.”

Owings recommends a raised bed to grow azaleas in most areas of Louisiana.

“Make sure you know the pH of your native soil and the landscape bed amendment material being used to make the raised bed,” he says. “Azaleas prefer a soil pH of 5.5, and a soil pH above 6.5 presents problems for azaleas.”

The new Encore azalea for 2010 is Autumn Lilac. Autumn Lilac has lavender flowers, and plants reach 4 feet tall, with a medium growth rate, Owings says.

“Encore azaleas are great plants for Louisiana landscapes,” Owings says. “With 24 varieties, you can select plants for small growth habit, along with intermediate and larger growth habits.

“We also have more flower colors available in Encore azaleas now than when the first few varieties were released,” he adds. “Reds, oranges, pink, blush, white, lavender and others are now available.”

Encore azaleas are one of the featured plants in the Margie Jenkins Azalea Garden at the LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station in Hammond.

Other varieties in the Encore azalea family are:

– Autumn Amethyst – dark pink to purple, 4-foot height, medium growth rate.

– Autumn Angel – pure white, 3-foot height, medium growth rate.

– Autumn Belle – pale pink, 5-foot height, rapid growth rate.

– Autumn Carnation – medium pink, 4.5-foot height, medium growth rate.

– Autumn Carnival – medium pink, 3-foot height, slow growth rate.

– Autumn Cheer – medium pink, 3-foot height, slow growth rate.

– Autumn Chiffon – light pink with a dark pink center, 2.5-foot height, medium growth rate.

– Autumn Coral – soft coral pink with fuchsia center, 2.5-foot height, medium growth rate.

– Autumn Debutante – light pink, 4-foot height, medium growth rate.

– Autumn Embers – deep orange red, 3-foot height, medium growth rate.

– Autumn Empress – medium pink, 4-foot height, medium growth rate.

– Autumn Monarch – dark orange pink with red freckles, 5-foot height, rapid growth rate.

– Autumn Moonlight – white with yellow throat, 5-foot height, rapid growth rate.

– Autumn Princess – salmon pink, 3.5-foot height, medium growth rate.

– Autumn Rouge – deep red-pink, 4.5-foot height, rapid growth rate.

– Autumn Royalty – dark purple, 4.5-foot height, rapid growth rate.

– Autumn Ruby – ruby red, 2.5-foot height, medium growth rate.

– Autumn Sangria – dark pink, 4.5-foot height, rapid growth rate.

– Autumn Starlight – white with pink flecks, 3.5-foot height, rapid growth rate.

– Autumn Sundance – deep pink, 3.5-foot height, medium growth rate.

– Autumn Sunset – vivid orange-red, 4-foot height, medium growth rate.

– Autumn Sweetheart – soft pink to white with lavender freckles, 4-foot height, slow growth rate.

– Autumn Twist – white with purple stripes, 4.5-foot height, rapid growth rate.
Rick Bogren

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