It seems wherever I look Encore azaleas have been showing out, including at The Garden Guy’s house. If you have never tried an Encore azalea, you may be wondering if they really have a good repeat bloom in the fall? The answer is, absolutely, and I’ll explain below.
In Georgia, September turned many of us into crybabies. Instead of the first day of fall, it was like the first glimpse into a really hot summer, not what you would consider for a glorious azalea bloom.
Tell that to those of us picking up a Big Mac at McDonald’s in Columbus, Ga. As I was ordering that mouth-watering treasure there they were the most beautiful red azaleas I have ever seen. I’m talking mid-September, garden gurus. To top it off, these were planted by the asphalt and had a mulch consisting of river rock.
I would like to suggest that if one of the busiest McDonald’s in the country can do it, you, as a home gardener can do it, too. The Encore’s really do repeat. Sometimes I think they always have some blooms but surely, I am wrong. There are 31 repeat blooming varieties. When it comes to fall, some bloom early, some mid-season, others late.
This gives us the opportunity to have a floral display for fall festivals, Thanksgiving and Christmas depending on where we live and, of course, Mother Nature is ultimately in control with various weather patterns. When I was in Savannah, Ga., I had some blooming for New Year’s Day.
Many of the Encore azaleas are cold hardy from zones 6a-10b and perform best in organic-rich, well-drained soil. It’s been said, the key to the green thumb is how brown it gets in soil preparation. Compost and organic-matter improve tight heavy soil allowing for the best drainage.
Add a layer of mulch after planting and again each year. The azalea keeps the roots near the soil surface and this annual decomposition of mulch and organic matter will maintain a good environment for new roots and help in moisture retention.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Choose a site with 4-to-6 hours of direct sunlight. I assure you they can take much more sun than you think as demonstrated at the McDonald’s I have been touting. Partial sun gardens with high shifting sunlight will also prove to be an optimal location.
I like them planted in curvy informal sweeps or clusters versus the formal toy soldier look. With 31 varieties you will find a wide range of colors and sizes from dwarf to intermediate when it comes to planting habit. You’ll find double blooming selections like Autumn Belle which caught my attention as it was frequently visited by hummingbirds to those that have an almost iridescent shimmer like the pink Autumn Jewel.
You will also be amazed to see the number of butterflies and bees that visit the flowers every day that they are blooming. So yes, the Encore azaleas do repeat. Fall is a great time to plant, those roots will get established and will have a huge jump start come spring. Pick your varieties to spread out your azalea blooming season.