Autumn Coral Encore® AzaleaRhododendron ‘Conled’
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The Autumn Coral® Encore Azalea is a dense evergreen bush growing 8 inches a year to a mature height of 4 feet, and a width of 5 feet. In April, and again from early July to the first frost, it is covered in beautiful coral pink blooms that are a full 3 inches across. Their rich coloring is enhanced by the fluted petals and the delicate brushstrokes and dots that decorate the inside of every bloom. Grow this spectacular bush around your home, out in beds, beneath trees or in wooded areas. It brings months of color and beauty to your garden.
The Autumn Coral® Encore Azalea is more sun resistant than many other azaleas, and it benefits from a bright spot with at least morning sun. Grow it in moist, well-drained and rich, acidic soil, with a pH of 6.5 or less. If you don’t have suitable soil it can be grown in a large planter in soil for acid-loving plants. Water regularly during dry weather. It is normally free of pests or diseases and it should not be trimmed unless absolutely necessary, as this will reduce the re-blooming.
Looking back 20 years or so, it is hard to believe that azaleas were once simply spring blooming shrubs. Very beautiful, in many different forms and colors, and blooming magnificently in spring, but just green leaves for the other 11 months of the year. Today, thanks to the skillful breakthrough-breeding of Robert E. Lee, we have the Encore Azaleas, which give us not just a wonderful spring of flowers, but blooms that start again in July and continue right into the fall, becoming more prolific, before resting for the winter. There are many to choose from, and it is hard to pick a favorite, but if you want a larger bush, with blooms in that sophisticated and complex pink we call ‘coral’, then you will obviously want to choose the Autumn Coral® Encore Azalea – and a wonderful choice it is.
The Autumn Coral Encore Azalea is a bushy evergreen shrub, growing to about 2½ feet tall, and ultimately reaching 4 feet, with a wider spread of about 3 feet, reaching 5 feet wide in time. It has a dense, twiggy structure, with many branches to the ground, covered in attractive foliage all year round. The leaves are simple ovals, in a rich dark green, with a soft, slightly fuzzy feel. They are about 1½ inches long and ½ inch wide. This plant is relatively fast-growing, adding 8 to 10 inches of new growth each year, in two spurts, immediately after the first spring flowering, and again in late summer.
The flowers are in clusters of 3 or 4 at the ends of every stem, and they open in succession, extending the flowering season. They are large, about 3 inches in diameter, and trumpet shaped, with 5 lush petals with fluted edges. Their flamboyant form emphasizes their gorgeous color, which is a rich, deep coral pink. Truly a wonderful and vibrant color, enhanced by delicate dots and streaks of darker red in the throat of the flower and up onto the petals.
The blooms first appear in April or early May, depending on where you live, and they stay in bloom at that time for up to 3 weeks. This spectacular spring show has the plant completely smothered in blooms, often obscuring the foliage almost completely. After that first spring flush of bloom your Autumn Coral Encore Azalea will take a rest, and you will see new shoots growing from around the base of the old flower clusters. Don’t trim these, as they will soon develop new flower buds. Around the first of July your bush will begin to bloom again. At first the blooms are scattered, but as the summer passes, and especially as fall begins, a wonderful autumn encore of blooms develops. The quantity of blooms begins to reduce in late fall, as buds go dormant, waiting to open the next spring, but it takes the first frost, which could be November or even December where you live, to bring blooming to an end.
Wherever you need color and structure, that is where to place this shrub. It’s height and spread makes it perfect for planting around your home, and it is ideal for the middle of shrub beds. Use it to fill corners, or plant it under trees in more natural areas. Plant a pair on either side of a door or gate, for months of colorful welcomes. Its evergreen form means it always looks good, even in winter.
Like most of the other Encore Azaleas, this shrub is hardy from zone 7 into all the warmer parts of the country. It grows well in the warm, humid south-east, and in the mild and damp north-west.
Unlike many other types of azalea, the Autumn Coral Encore Azalea grows well in full sun. Good light is needed to keep those buds developing and those blooms coming, so don’t plant it in too shady a spot. It will certainly be happy with a little afternoon shade, especially in the hottest zones, but avoid dark parts of your garden.
Like all azaleas, it grows best in moist but well-drained acidic soils. It is not very drought tolerant, and it benefits from regular watering during dry periods. The soil should have a pH value of no more than 6.5, and lower values are preferable. Mulch with lime-free compost, such as rotted leaves, in early spring, to conserve moisture and enrich the soil, and use fertilizer for acid-loving plants. If you don’t have suitable soil, you can grow it in a large pot or planter box, using compost blended for acid-loving plants. Feed potted plants regularly for the best results.
This shrub is generally free of pests or diseases, and it is relatively easy to grow. It needs no trimming, and you should not trim the new growth, as this will reduce or eliminate later blooming in that season.
In 1968 the scientist Dr. Hsu of Taiwan University collected seed from a rare wild azalea called Rhododendron oldhamii. Seedlings were brought to America and in 1973 one was given to Dr. John T. Thornton of C&T Nursery in Franklinton, Louisiana. He noticed that this plant always re-bloomed, starting in late June, and he named it ‘Fourth of July’. Robert E. Lee, an azalea nurseryman from Independence, Louisiana, was given a plant of this variety in 1981 and he used pollen from that plant on a white-flowering Satsuki-type azalea called ‘White Gumpo’. He grew the resulting seedlings from his cross-pollination. In 1986 he selected an outstanding plant which he named ‘Conled’, and he received a patent for it, now expired, in 1998. With the trademarked name Autumn Coral® it is part of the Encore Azalea series that has made Robert Lee famous.
For sophisticated color on a splendid larger bush, you can’t beat the Autumn Coral Encore Azalea. We can never keep these plants in stock, so order your plants now, or they will be gone, and you will miss the chance to enjoy this outstanding plant.