The Autumn Bravo™ Encore® Azalea is one of the foundation plants of this fantastic group of re-blooming evergreen azaleas that have revolutionized the use of these plants in our gardens. It is one of the breeder’s first introductions, and yet it still stands out as a spectacular shrub, smothered in brilliant red blooms in spring and again from mid-summer to the first frost. If you love red you will be saying, “Bravo” each and every time you admire this beauty in your garden.
The Autumn Bravo™ Encore® Azalea grows rapidly into a densely-branched, upright shrub between 4 and 5 feet tall, and a similar width across. The evergreen foliage is dense and finely textured, with deep green leaves that are 1½ to 2 inches long. and ½ an inch to ¾ of an inch wide. They are smoothly oval, with a fine coating of hairs over the surface, especially on young leaves. These hairs mostly disappear as the leaves mature, remaining mainly on the underside, and leaving a slightly glossy mature leaf. This plant grows fast, and it is in more-or-less continuous growth from early spring to late fall. It will add between 8 and 10 inches of growth each year, so within a few short years you will have beautiful mature plants in your landscape, carrying hundreds of blooms in succession.
Growing Autumn Bravo™ Encore® Azaleas
The flowers of the Autumn Bravo™ Encore® Azalea are a full two inches across, and they are carried in clusters on the ends of the branches. Each bloom has 5 petals with wavy edges, forming an open funnel. The flowers are a brilliant pure red, neither orange, pink or purple, and this pure color will glow across your garden like a beacon. Look more closely and you will see darker red streaks and spots radiating out from the depths of the flower, across the lower parts of the petals. The first blooms open in April, and the bush is completely smothered in blooms, almost hiding the leaves entirely.
After these blooms fade new shoots appear, and it is important not to trim these shoots, as by mid-July they will be blooming again. As the new growth continues, so do new blooms develop, and blooming is more or less continuous right up until the first frost. As the nights become cooler, some of the new buds will not open, and instead they remain dormant, waiting through the winter for spring to return, when they will create that first display in April of the following year.
Uses in Your Garden
Imagine a blazing bed of the Autumn Bravo™ Encore® Azalea in your lawn, or along a fence. The continuous flow of color will brighten your garden for months. Plant one in a smaller space, or in groups among evergreens around your home. Run a row along a walkway or driveway, or at the base of a fence. Mix them with other flowering shrubs in beds or scatter them among the trees in a wooded area. This beautiful shrub looks equally at home in a more formal garden setting around your home, or in a natural wooded setting, under trees and among woodland plants.
Unlike most other evergreen azaleas, the Autumn Bravo™ Encore® Azalea thrives in sun, especially in zones 6 and 7. In those zones choose a sheltered spot, protected from cold winter winds, and in warm sunshine. In warmer zones some afternoon shade is appreciated. This versatile and vigorous plant will also grow well in light shade, such as along a north-facing wall, or beneath deciduous trees.
It does best in moist, well-drained soil that is acidic, with a pH between 5.0 and 6.5. If your neighbors are growing azaleas in their gardens, or blue hydrangeas, you can easily grow this plant. If your soil is alkaline, then simply use pots or planter boxes filled with potting soil for acid-loving plants and fertilize regularly with azalea food. These plants have fine, fibrous roots, and they are happy in pots for many years. Choose a wide, shallow pot or planter, with a drainage hole, and water whenever the top ½-inch of the soil is dry. Pests and diseases are rarely problems, and these vigorous plants are fun to grow, and easy.
History and Origins of the Autumn Bravo™ Encore® Azalea
The Autumn Bravo™ Encore® Azalea is the work of Robert E. Lee, known as ‘Buddy’. He began working with a unique variety of a rare Taiwan azalea, Rhododendron oldhamii, called ‘Fourth of July’. This unique plant flowers all summer long, unlike all other azaleas, and it was discovered by Dr. John T. Thornton of C&T Nursery, Franklinton, Louisiana. He gave a plant to Buddy, who began a breeding program to create many colors of plants, all blooming in summer and fall. One of his early crosses was between this plant and an older azalea variety called ‘Red Slippers’. This dense bush has purple-red blooms, and Buddy gathered many seeds from his cross. When he grew the seedlings, one stood out as very special. He patented it under the name of ‘Conlen’ in 2000, to protect his discovery, although it was first picked out in 1989. This plant is a foundation member of the Encore Azalea group, and he called it Autumn Bravo – no wonder!
Our plants are produced under license, to preserve the exact genetics and quality of that first plant, and we know how popular red is among gardeners, and so how quickly our limited stock will be gone. Order now and set your garden ablaze for months.