Encore Azaleas took the gardening world by storm when they were first introduced, and today they remain the number one choice for everyone who loves azaleas. It is not just that they have beautiful colors and big, bold flowers – after all, so do many azalea varieties. What makes these plants stand out is their continuous flowering, from that first flush of spring right through summer and into fall with additional flower clusters constantly forming. These plants have transformed azaleas from ‘once a year’ flowers to ‘three season’ flowers and brought masses of color to many, many gardens.
The Autumn Royalty Encore Azalea stands out as one of the very best of these great plants. Don’t take our word for it, the south-east chapter of the American Rhododendron Society declared it Azalea of the Year in 2004, the year it was released by the breeder. This stunning beauty has large blooms 2½ to 3½ inches across, in the richest shades of purple that will steal your heart away. It has evergreen leaves that are a little larger than typical azaleas, and it grows into a substantial shrub, reaching 4 feet tall in just 10 years. It is upright, but as wide as it is tall, so this is the perfect background shrub for shorter shrubs and flowers. In spring it will be covered all over with a dense display of blooms, making a grand center-piece in your garden. Then, as soon as the flowers fade, new shoots appear, and these develop more flower buds, continuing to bloom throughout summer and fall, only ending with the arrival of the colder weather.
During winter your plant will be an attractive evergreen bush, but for the rest of the year it will be in bloom. This is very different from traditional azaleas, which are only in bloom for a few weeks, and are a plain green bush for the rest of the year. The other great advantage to the Autumn Royalty Encore Azalea is its ability to grow well in sun. Most azaleas need soft shade all day, or they will burn and not develop well. The Encore Azaleas love sun, especially in the morning, but in cooler areas in the afternoon too. In hot regions afternoon sun is a good idea, but in any location, this is an azalea that grows in much more sun than other kinds do, so you can plant it in the open, and use it in a new garden that has not yet developed larger plants that provide shade. Planted among other shrubs around your house, or in garden beds among shrubs and flowers, this beautiful plant will quickly become a favorite in your garden.
The Encore Azaleas were developed by Buddy Lee, an azalea grower in Independence, Louisiana, who crossed a rare Taiwan azalea, Rhododendron oldhamii, that flowers in summer, with other types of azaleas. After years of careful breeding, selecting and testing, he released six plants in 1995, and by adding more each year, his unique selection now includes 30 different varieties in many colors. Autumn Royalty is undoubtedly the most vibrant of them all – a delicious rich purple that will blend beautifully with pinks, deep reds, yellows and white in your garden. These plants are carefully grown by expert growers and protected by patent, so you can be sure that unless it says Encore™ Azalea, it is not the real thing, and cheaper plants will only be a disappointment to you.
Choose a spot in sun or partial shade and enrich the soil before planting with plenty of peat moss. Keep your new plants well-watered, especially during the early years. For the best growth of your azalea you should have acid soil with a pH of 6.5 or less. You can easily test your soil with a simple kit from a garden center, or if your neighbors are growing azaleas, you can too. Even if your soil is not acidic, as long as it is not strongly alkaline you can use chelated iron each spring to keep it healthy. These plants were selected for hardiness and resistance to pests and diseases, so they will grow easily over a wide area, from cool regions with winter temperatures reaching minus 10 degrees, right into areas with hot, humid summers. Your plant needs no pruning or special care at all to bring you pleasure and a profusion of blooms for three seasons of the year.
We have a good stock of these popular plants, but we know that they will be in high demand and supplies will not last long. To avoid disappointment and to grow this new generation of garden azaleas that are taking the gardening world by storm, order now, while stocks last.