The Autumn Sunburst™ Encore® Azalea is a unique member of the Encore Azalea family, with wonderful flowers that show two colors – a gorgeous coral pink, edged in white. The flowers are a fabulous stand-out against the rich dark-green of the foliage, and of course, just like our other plants from this group, it flowers not just in spring, but throughout the summer months, and again in fall. It brings you months and months of flower, elevating evergreen azaleas for a brief spring fling into a reliable multi-season flowering shrub.
The Autumn Sunburst™ Encore® Azalea is incredibly versatile too. Because these plants are much more sun-resistant than most other evergreen azaleas, it can be used anywhere in the garden. Its compact size, growing just 3 feet tall and spreading just a little wider than that, means it can fit anywhere. Even the smallest garden has room for one, to brighten a corner for three seasons of the year. Use group plantings in the foreground of bigger beds, or use a row to edge a pathway, drive or large bed. Plus, its smaller size makes it ideal for pots and planters, so you can use it for permanent structure with ever-changing annuals in planter boxes, or place pots around your terrace and patio for splashes of color.
Growing Autumn Sunburst™ Encore® Azaleas
If you think that is all the Autumn Sunburst™ Encore® Azalea has to offer, you are wrong. Most evergreen azaleas will grow well only in zones 7, 8 and 9, but this one thrives in zone 6, making it available to a huge number of gardeners who have been missing out. Also, when grown in pots you can easily bring it into a protected place for the winter, so now everyone, no matter where you live, can grow this terrific plant. Now you can see why here at the Tree Center we are so excited to be able to offer it.
The Autumn Sunburst™ Encore® Azalea is a fast-growing evergreen azalea, with small, deep-green leaves on a densely structured plant. The open, trumpet-shaped flowers are 2½ inches across, in a warm coral-pink color, with a deeper pink throat and veins spreading out across the petals. The outer edge of each petal is marked in a broad, irregular band of pure white, creating a vibrant and rich effect. This truly is a stand-out variety. The bush itself quickly grows to a height of just 3 feet, spreading outwards to a width of 3½ feet. Flowering begins around late March in the South, and continues until the first frost, in October or November – yes that is right, 6 months of flowers. The spring and fall displays have the greatest number of flowers, but flowering continues at a reduced pace through all the summer months.
Planting and Initial Care
Plant the Autumn Sunburst™ Encore® Azalea in full sun in zones 6 and 7, and in morning sun in zones 8 and 9. It will grow just as well in partial shade, and also in light full shade, such as in the shade of the north side of a building, or in the light shade beneath deciduous trees. In zone 6, choose a sheltered spot, protected from north winds.
It grows best in moist but well-drained soil, and not in dry soil or very wet soil. A steady supply of water will give you the best results, especially for plants growing in full sun. The soil should be acidic, with a pH value no more than 6.5, and preferably lower. If you have a higher value than this, then simply grow your plants in pots, using a potting soil for acid-loving plants. This will also allow you to move plants around for maximum display and the best growing conditions. In winter you can bring your plants indoors, into a bright but cool place, such as an unheated porch. If the temperature is just a few degrees above freezing, that is ideal. This way you can grow the Autumn Sunburst™ Encore® Azalea in any growing zone at all.
History and Origins of the Autumn Sunburst™ Encore® Azalea
Encore Azaleas were developed by Robert E. “Buddy” Lee, from Independence, Louisiana. He is an azalea expert, and in the 1980s he began a breeding program using the rare Taiwan Azalea, Rhododendron oldhamii, which is unique for flowering in spring, summer and fall. From this careful program he developed the first Encore Azaleas, with their unique extended flowering seasons. From those first varieties others were developed, often because azaleas have a tendency to produce stems with different flowers on them. These ‘branch sports’ as they are called can then be grown on their own roots, and they become new varieties.
In 2007 he spotted two similar branch sports on plants of the Autumn Sunset variety (‘Roblen’). This lovely plant, which we also have available, has wonderful bright red flowers. These branch sports had bi-color coral pink and white flowers. After testing he selected the best one, a more compact variety which became Autumn Sunburst. In 2014, after years of careful testing for quality and reliability, he received a patent on the plant, under the name ‘Roblet’.
These plants are produced exclusively by the original nursery, to preserve their quality and genetic purity, and we love this unique bi-color as a great part of our Encore Azalea collection. For growing in zone 6 and in containers it has no equal, but we also recommend it for all warmer zones, to bring brightness to any planting. Our stocks are limited, so we urge you to order now, while we can still deliver this beautiful dwarf shrub right to your door.