Autumn Starburst Encore AzaleaRhododendron ‘Robleze’ PP32506
View more from Encore® Azaleas
30 day - ARRIVE AND THRIVE™ guaranteeLearn more
Rhododendron ‘Robleze’ PP32506
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Autumn Starburst® Encore® Azalea is a wonderful smaller evergreen azalea growing 3 feet tall and just a little wider. It begins the year in spring with an abundance of 2½ inch blooms of ruffled petals, with a big center of orange-red with darker veining, surrounded by pure white. After a brief rest blooming begins again in July, and continues with growing intensity right into fall to the first frost. A perfect brightly-colored plant for fronting shrub beds, growing along paths and driveways, or growing in pots and planters – especially if you don’t have the acidic soil this plant grows best in.
For maximum reblooming, plant the Autumn Starburst® Encore® Azalea in a brighter spot than you might choose for azaleas – even full sun is good if the soil is moist enough. Some afternoon shade is better if it isn’t. The ideal soil is moist but well-drained, rich in organic material and with a pH below 6.5. If you don’t have suitable soil, grow it in a pot with soil and fertilizer designed for acid-loving plants. This plant is usually free of any pest or disease problems, and easy to grow. Trimming is not usually needed, and never cut the new stems that grow after the spring flowering – these carry the blooms still to come.
Bursting onto the scene as the latest star in the fabulous Encore® series, the Autumn Starburst® Encore® Azalea brings a bold, new, two-tone look, with gorgeous blooms of bright orange centers, surrounded by pure white edges. These revolutionary plants made ‘spring’ azaleas flowers for all seasons, with a bold spring display followed by some summer flowers, and a fabulous encore of many blooms in early fall – wow, what a breakthrough. Now azaleas can be a steady feature of your garden and shrub beds, blooming for months and adding color to beds, edging and containers too. If you are already familiar with the Encore azaleas, then this brand-new color belongs in your collection. If you are new, then it’s a great place to start, and discover what these plants can do for your garden. Just 3 feet tall, and a little more wide, it’s perfect for running along a path or drive, and with so much bloom you won’t need anything else for a season of great color.
The Autumn Starburst® Encore® Azalea is a bushy evergreen shrub, adding about 4 inches a year to mature at around 3 feet tall, with a spread of 3 to 4 feet. It is always densely branched, and needs no trimming or regular pruning to stay neat, dense, and attractive. The oval leaves are dark-green, with a soft fuzzy feel, and about 1½ inches long and ¾ inch wide.
In early spring you will already be able to see those light-green buds waiting for warmer weather, and by mid-spring they will be opening. That first blooming lasts about 3 weeks and then new stems spout up. These begin to bloom again in July and continue to produce more and more, peaking in early fall, and then reducing again, stopped only by the first significant frost. This can mean blooms even in December if you live in the South. As temperatures fall new buds go into dormancy, accumulating until there are many to pass through winter, ready for the first warm days of spring again.
The gorgeous blooms are 2½ inches across, with 5 broad, ruffled petals giving a semi-double look to the bloom. The lower half of each petal is colored a bright orange-red, decorated with darker-red intricate veining, and the outer half is pure white – a striking and dramatic bicolor bloom that is a dramatic burst indeed. Blooms just keep on coming and coming, making just one bush a feature in your garden from spring through fall.
With its attractive evergreen foliage, this shrub is beautiful even in winter, without blooms. This makes it great for permanent structure and edging, or filling spaces in the front of larger shrubs. Use it around your home in the foundation planting. Plant it in beds under large trees, where it looks great, or in the front of large shrub beds. Grow just one, or plant them in clusters and drifts, spacing plants 2½ feet apart. Grow it in woodland gardens with other azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias and other shade-loving plants, or edging a path or driveway. Because of their soft, fibrous root system, you can grow these plants successfully in pots and planters for years, and leave them outdoors all winter from zone 8. Place the pots on a balcony, a terrace, a porch or up a flight of steps.
The Autumn Starburst® Encore® Azalea is completely hardy in zone 7 to 10, and also hardy in zone 6, in a sheltered, sunny location.
Plant the Autumn Starburst® Encore® Azalea in full sun, if the soil is generally moist. That location will give you maximum reblooming through summer and fall. It will grow in partial shade, but Encore azaleas bloom best with plenty of light and direct sun. Take a look at our range of ReBLOOM® azaleas for plants that rebloom better in more shady locations.
Plant in soil that is rich, moist and well-drained. Acidic soil, with a pH below 6.5, will give you the best results. Don’t give up if you don’t have this kind of soil, just grow them in a large pot, using potting soil and fertilizer made for acid-loving plants – it is widely available. Always choose a pot with a drainage hole and water thoroughly every time the top ½ inch becomes dry.
You will have the best blooming and growth if you mulch each spring with a lime-free compost, and water regularly – this plant isn’t drought resistant. You shouldn’t need to do much if any pruning, and never trim the new growth that comes after the spring blooms – or you will prevent re-blooming.
We have Robert E. Lee, a keen azalea lover and nurseryman from Independence, Louisiana, to thank for the Encore® azaleas. He began with a special plant called ‘Fourth of July’ he was given by a botanist called Dr. Thornton. He had grown it from the seeds of a rare plant called Rhododendron oldhamii, from Taiwan. In 1983 Mr Lee used pollen from this new plant on a cold-hardy azalea called ‘Shroeder’s Pink Perfection’, and grew the seeds. Starting with the seedlings he got from this cross he developed many different plants, all of them reblooming amazingly. One characteristic of azaleas is how a branch can suddenly grow with different flowers from the rest of the plant. These ‘branch sports’ gave him more varieties, including one called ‘Roblet’, or Autumn Sunburst. In 2016 Russell McConnell, from Loxley, Alabama, was growing ‘Roblet’ at his nursery, when he spotted another ‘branch sport’. That became ‘Robleze’ and was patented in 2020, joining the Encore azaleas as Autumn Starburst®.
It is amazing how each year new, even better Encore azaleas arrive at our farm. They don’t last long, though, as we have regular clients just waiting to get hold of the latest introductions. So don’t hesitate to order yours – or they will all be gone.