Even though there are more than 29 Encore® azalea varieties and more than 10,000 other cultivars, choosing the right one doesn’t have to be a difficult choice. Whether you have an established garden that just needs sprucing up with a splash of color, or you are starting with a blank canvas, the Autumn Lilac™ is going to be a smart and beneficial investment. Many homeowners don’t realize the extra value that a low-maintenance and well planned garden space can add to their property. Future returns on a home or commercial property can be increased by as much as 20% and that’s an excellent incentive to make your outdoor space as spectacular as you possibly can. The versatility provided by the Encore® azaleas cannot be found in any other variety – use them as a single specimen for container planting or in mass plantings to line your property.
Master plant breeder Robert Lee started developing the Encore® range of azaleas back in the 1980s. He first crossed the traditional azalea with the exotic Rhododendron oldhamii, which is native to Taiwan. Additional careful crossing for color variances, hardiness, blossom and leaf shape resulted in what we have now in 2015; 29 Encore® varieties that outperform any of the other 10,000 cultivars available. The Autumn Lilac™, just like the other Encore® varieties, is patented for its specific blooming features. Staying small and compact is a key feature for this plant; it typically reaches three feet in height and three and a half feet in width, while maintaining a tightly packed dome shape. Autumn Lilac™ produces lavender colored blossoms with ruffled petals that are dappled with darker purple freckles. These brightly colored blossoms are set against dark evergreen foliage that offers a lovely contrast. Encore®’s azaleas are best known for their reblooming ability. They begin in the spring with new foliage and bud growth, then burst into life as summer approaches. These blossoms hold all through the summer and then most of the autumn months. The blossoms only begin to fall once the cold weather sets in. The plant goes dormant through the winter and begins the process all over again next spring.
Like the other Encore® varieties, Autumn Lilac™ has been bred specifically to be very cold hardy. This azalea is suitable for locations in the USDA plant hardiness zones 6 to 9 and can tolerate a fair amount of sun in the cooler northern locations. The leaves are prone to scorching in the Southern states though, and the plant would benefit from some filtered shade to avoid unnecessary damage. Azaleas, in general, do not tolerate excessive heat or drought conditions so you will want to make sure the plant is situated in a moist but well-drained location. You can prevent the roots from overheating or drying out by adding a layer of mulch around the base of the plant. Azaleas do very well in raised beds, on slopes, and planted in mounds which ensure adequate drainage. pH levels in the soil for Autumn Lilac™ should be between 5 and 5.5; you can add sulfur or iron sulfate to lower pH levels that are much higher, or add limestone to raise the pH in soils that are too acidic. Azaleas also have a fibrous root system; avoiding adding additional plants once the root system has establish will help prevent the plant from suffering stress or damage.
Autumn Lilac™ will need about a year to become fully established and is a plant that can be cultivated in either the spring or autumn months. It is however suggested that planting should take place after August so that the root system can establish itself over the fall season. August is also a good time to fertilize this particular species. Fertilization and planting in the late summer to early fall will help the plant flourish and produce a spectacular display of color in the coming spring. Very little pruning is needed for this plant aside from the removal of dead or dying flowers and branches. Because the plant maintains a tight compact form, you will not need to prune the shrub to shape. Like the other Encore® varieties, Autumn Lilac™ is also free from any serious disease or insect infestation. However early intervention can always reduce the possibility of damage to the plant and you should check them occasionally for anything that might be harmful.
The Autumn Lilac™ by Encore® is by far an extraordinary plant that produces a spectacularly colored blossom and combines the characteristics that many horticulturists are looking for in a plant of this stature. The lavender blossoms will add a bright burst of color to any space that it is included, whether it be in a container on your patio or as an accent plant surrounding your homes foundation. Encore®’s reputation for producing quality beautiful azaleas cannot be match and your investment in this plant is bound to provide years of enjoyment.