Encore Azaleas have taken the gardening world by storm – at least in the warmer zones of 7, 8 and 9. Gardeners in zone 6 have tried to grow them too, but they often report failures, with plants and buds browning in winter, severely affecting the size and blooming of these fabulous all-season plants. For those zone 6 gardeners, the Autumn Lily™ Encore® Azalea is a gift, because this is one variety that will thrive even in those cooler regions. As well, its flowers are pure white, so that no matter what other plants you grow around it, it will look perfect all the months it is in bloom.
Autumn Lily grows into a robust plant a full 4½ feet tall and 4 feet wide. This size is ideal for the background of smaller beds, or for the middle areas of larger beds, with big shrubs behind it, and smaller ones in front. Just a few plants will fill a large space, and for those inward-corners around your house, one will often fit perfectly.
Growing Autumn Lily™ Encore® Azaleas
Of course, like all the Encore Azaleas, the Autumn Lily Encore Azalea grows well in zones 7, 8 and 9, and in those regions it is also perfect for foundation planting where a taller plant is needed than the popular and smaller Autumn Ivory. Indeed, you can use them both, for flowering at two different heights. Wherever you grow this fabulous plant, you will just love the long blooming season, with the first profuse blooming in spring, followed by flowers all summer long, and ending with a dynamic ‘encore’ of many blooms in fall.
White flowers look terrific anywhere in the garden, never clashing, and bringing a cool, sophisticated look, especially in the late afternoon, when you arrive home from work needed a calm, refreshing vision. Unlike darker colors, which can disappear in shade, white always stand out, glowing out across the garden from every corner. It lifts and brightens all other plants, and darker colors stand out magnificently when planted in front of white flowers.
The Autumn Lily Encore Azalea will grow in full sun, partial shade, and light dappled full shade. In zone 6 grow it in a sunny place, sheltered from northerly winds, or in partial shade. In warmer zones, especially zones 8 and 9, it is best to limit full sun to morning sun only, and grow it where there is afternoon shade, such as in locations facing east. It is much more sun-tolerant than older kinds of evergreen azaleas, and it can be grown in places too sunny for them, as well as in the ordinary partially shady spots all evergreen azaleas love. These plants love the partial-shade beneath evergreen trees, and drifts of azaleas look wonderful in woodland settings, as well as in beds among other flowering shrubs.
Plant the Autumn Lily Encore Azalea in moist, well-drained soil. It is not drought-tolerant, and it should be watered regularly, especially during hot and dry weather. Do not plant in wet places where the soil is regularly saturated with water. It also requires acidic soil, with a pH value of 6.5 or less. If you do not know the value of your soil, you can use a simple and inexpensive kit from your local garden center. It only takes a few minutes. Also, if your neighbors are already growing azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, or other acid-loving plants in their gardens, that means you can almost certainly do so too.
If you have suitable soil, but still see some yellowing of the new leaves on your plant in spring, then apply chelated iron, obtainable from garden centers. Apply in early spring, and again in early fall. If your soil has a pH over 6.5, you can grow all azaleas in pots, and since they have a relatively small root system, even large plants can be grown in modest-sized pots and planters. Make sure the container has a drainage hole, use potting soil for acid-loving plants, and use an azalea fertilizer regularly.
History and Origins of the Autumn Lily™ Encore® Azalea
The Autumn Lily Encore Azalea is a type of evergreen azalea, and these plants are all part of a group of plants called Rhododendron. They grow chiefly in China, Japan and the Himalayan mountains, and there are hundreds of wild species, and thousands of garden varieties. The Encore® Azaleas are unique in blooming in summer and fall, which is a result of their special breeding. Robert E. Lee, lives in Independence, Louisiana. He used the rare Taiwan Azalea, Rhododendron oldhamii, with the unique ability to bloom in fall, for a breeding program with many other azalea varieties. His work began in the 1980s, and he continues to work with Flint Jerome Johnson, who discovered the Autumn Lily plant.
In 2002 Lee noticed a unique branch growing on a plant of the Autumn Twist (‘Conlep’) Encore Azalea. While Autumn Twist has pink flowers with purple stripes and markings, this special branch had pure white flowers. He grew plants from this special branch, and those plants became the Autumn Lily Encore Azalea. The plant was patented in 2014 under the name of ‘Roblex’.
Our plants of the Autumn Lily Encore Azalea are produced by the original nursery, and they are genetically identical to that original unique branch. Sometimes the flowers have a stripe or two or purple, showing their connection to the original Autumn Twist. This plant is hugely popular, first because it grows well in zone 6, and secondly because its neutral-colored white flowers make it ideal for foundation planting and background planting, since it cannot clash with any of the other colors you grow. Our stock will soon be gone, so order now and enjoy this very special plant in your own garden while it is still available.