Autumn Carnation Encore® AzaleaRhododendron 'Roblec' (PP#15,339)
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Rhododendron 'Roblec' (PP#15,339)
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Autumn Carnation® Encore® Azalea is one of the larger plants in the Encore range, and it is just as reliable in re-blooming as the rest of the series. There is a big display in April of huge, 3-inch semi-double blooms, of a glorious rich pink, followed by further blooming starting in July and continuing all through fall until the first hard frost. This evergreen bush grows to be 4 or 5 feet tall, making it ideal for specimens or the middle area of large beds, or the back of smaller ones. It is also perfect in pots if you don’t have the soil conditions it needs.
The Autumn Carnation® Encore® Azalea is a little unusual, because it grows well and blooms best when grown in full sun. It will also grow with morning sun and some afternoon shade. The soil should be moist but well drained, and rich in organic matter. It should have a pH reading below 6.0 for the best results – grow it in a pot with soil and fertilizer for acid-loving plants if you don’t have suitable soil in your garden. It is generally free of serious pests or diseases, and a sturdy, reliable plant that anyone can grow successfully. Water regularly during hot or dry weather.
The Encore® Azaleas have become well-known to many gardeners, and these tributes to the genius of one remarkable plant breeder are very popular with all gardeners in the know, and who want to see their azaleas bloom beyond that first spring display. If you don’t know these plants you are in for a treat, and a chance to make azaleas the backbone of your shrub collection, in bloom for months of the year. Whether you are new to them, or an ‘old hand’, you can literally raise your game with them and opt for a taller variety that will bring color further back in your beds, or make a spectacular large specimen. We love the Autumn Carnation® Encore® Azalea not just for its beautiful large, rich pink ruffled blooms, but for how it quickly reaches 4 or 5 feet tall, making a significant garden statement. It certainly won’t get lost in the undergrowth, and it’s a great way to fill out a corner in a smaller space, or flow through the middle area of your shrub beds.
The Autumn Carnation Encore Azalea is an evergreen shrub with a dense, bushy habit, that grows about 8 inches a year to reach a height of 4 or 5 feet, with a spread of 3 to 4 feet. Its natural growth habit means it will always be densely branched, needing no trimming or pruning to look full and attractive. The leaves are oval, around 2 inches long and an inch wide, and dark green, with a soft, hairy feel.
By early spring you will notice the pointed, light-green buds all over the plant, expectantly waiting for warmer weather to arrive. The first blooming typically takes place through April, and it lasts 2 to 3 weeks. Then new stems begin to grow, and by July they are producing blooms, which continues, reaching a peak in fall, and then reduces, ending only with the first significant frost. In the South, this can mean blooms in December. During that later period, as temperatures fall, newly formed buds increasingly tend to become dormant, forming the buds that will come into bloom in the following April. The blooms are magnificent – a full 2½ to 3 inches across, shaped like a flaring funnel. The 5 outer petals are ruffled and wavy, and they contain many smaller petals, making a semi-double bloom. The color is a delicious carnation pink – rich and rosy, with purplish overtones. The petals are scattered with dark purple-red spots and veins, adding a final flourish to the confection. A bush in bloom is a glorious sight, and this plant just keeps on giving and giving.
Even in winter, when it is not in bloom this plant is an attractive addition to your garden, and could, for example, be planted around your home as part of the foundation planting. It is perfect for beds surrounding trees, and for mixed shrub beds, where it could be background planting in smaller beds, and middle ground in larger ones. Plant a single plant, or group them into drifts, spacing plants about 3 feet apart. It is also perfect in woodland gardens, where it could be grown beneath trees, or along a woodland pathway. Azaleas have fibrous root systems, and they can be grown for years in pots and planters too, so they are also ideal balcony, patio or terrace plants.
The Autumn Carnation Encore Azalea is completely hardy in zone 7 to 10, and hardy in zone 6, in a sheltered, sunny location.
The Autumn Carnation Encore Azalea grows well in full sun, if the soil is moist, and there it will bloom at its maximum. It will also grow in partial shade, but too much shade will reduce the second blooming, and give you a taller, more open bush with larger leaves. Check out our range of ReBLOOM azaleas for plants that re-flower better in shadier places.
The soil for your bush should be rich, moist and well-drained. It should also be acidic, with a pH below 6.5 for the best results. If you don’t have suitable soil, don’t worry, just grow this lovely shrub in a large pot, using potting soil and fertilizer created for acid-loving plants. Make sure your pot has a drainage hole.
Mulch with lime-free composts or manures each spring, for maximum blooming and growth. Regular watering is needed, as this plant is not drought resistant. Little if any pruning is needed, and it is important not to trim the new growth that follows flowering, or you will destroy most of the re-blooming of your bush.
The Encore® azaleas are the work of nurseryman and azalea lover Robert E. Lee, from Independence, Louisiana. He was inspired by a plant he was given by a botanist, Dr. Thornton, called ‘Fourth of July’. This was found by the doctor in the 1980s in a batch of seedlings he grew of Rhododendron oldhamii, a rare species from Taiwan. It was striking because it rebloomed, starting in July. Robert E. Lee used pollen from that plant on a variety of cold-hardy azalea from 1984 called ‘Shroeder’s Pink Perfection’. It was among the seedlings of that cross that he found, in 1995, the plant he called ‘Roblec’. It was patented in 2004, and added to his Encore range, as the trademarked variety Autumn Carnation®.
We love the Encore azaleas, and so do our clients. Most of them are smaller plants, so Autumn Carnation is something special, with huge blooms on a larger bush. We can hardly keep these plants on the farm long enough to get to see them bloom, so order now, because they sell out very, very quickly.