Autumn Sweetheart Encore® Azalea

Rhododendron ‘Robleja’ (PP #16,249)

Autumn Sweetheart Encore® Azalea

Rhododendron ‘Robleja’ (PP #16,249)

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How are the heights measured?

All tree, and nothin' but the tree! We measure from the top of the soil to the top of the tree; the height of the container or the root system is never included in our measurements.

What is a gallon container?

Nursery containers come in a variety of different sizes, and old-school nursery slang has stuck. While the industry-standard terminology is to call the sizes "Gallon Containers", that doesn't exactly translate to the traditional liquid "gallon" size we think of. You'll find we carry young 1-gallons, up to more mature 7-gallons ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 6ft.

How does the delivery process work?

All of our orders ship via FedEx Ground! Once your order is placed online, our magic elves get right to work picking, staging, boxing and shipping your trees. Orders typically ship out within 2 business days. You will receive email notifications along the way on the progress of your order, as well as tracking information to track your plants all the way to their new home!

Why are some states excluded from shipping?

The short & sweet answer is: "United States Department of Agriculture Restrictions." Every state has their own unique USDA restrictions on which plants they allow to come into their state. While we wish we could serve everyone, it's for the safety of native species and helps prevent the spread of invasive disease & pests. We've gotta protect good ole' Mother Nature, after all.

About Me


The Autumn Sweetheart™ Encore® Azalea steals the heart of everyone who sees its beautiful pastel pink blooms, fading from a deeper center into near-white margins on the petals. Enhanced by deeper pink brush strokes in the throat, these blooms cover the plant in April, of course, but then return for a brilliant encore from mid-July to the first frost, keeping color in your garden for months, not days. Grow this 4 to 5-foot shrub as part of the foundation planting around your home, or in the light shade of a wooded area. Use it to create an informal hedge in a narrow space, as it grows taller than it is wide. Wherever you grow it, it will bring vivacious coloring to your garden, on a vigorous and fast-growing shrub.

  • Magnificent pastel pink bloom fade to white at the margins
  • Reblooms all summer and fall, after a spring blooming
  • Sturdy, upright plant is perfect for informal hedges
  • Grows equally well in sun or shade
  • Great choice for pots and planters as well

The Autumn Sweetheart™ Encore® Azalea grows equally well in sun or light shade. More sun in cooler zones is recommended, with some afternoon shade in hotter states. It should be grown in moist, well-drained and rich soil that is acidic, with a pH between 5.0 and 6.5. If your neighbors are growing azaleas, camellias and blue hydrangeas in their gardens, so can you, and you will wow them with the endless flowering of this beautiful plant. If you don’t have suitable soil, then grow it in a pot, using soil for acid-loving plants, and azalea food.

Plant Hardiness Zones 6-10
Mature Width 3-4
Mature Height 4-5
Sun Needs Full Sun, Partial Sun
Zones 6-10

The Autumn Sweetheart™ Encore® Azalea is a unique member of the Encore Azalea series, and if you love pink, this is the plant for you. Each large bloom is blush pink, shading out from a deeper center into a near-white margin, and creating a rich visual texture that solid colors can never achieve. Not only that, this delicious plant is fast-growing, sun-tolerant and blooms for months and months, not just for a week or two, as those old-fashioned evergreen azaleas do. Everyone loves azaleas, and we can’t get enough of those blooms, so let’s fill our gardens with Encore Azaleas, so that we are never without them, from spring to fall.

Growing Autumn Sweetheart™ Encore® Azaleas

The Autumn Sweetheart™ Encore® Azalea grows quickly into a bush 4 feet tall and wide, or a little more. Unlike older slow-growing azaleas, that add just a couple of inches a year, this one adds 8 to 10 inches a year, so it soon reaches its mature height of 4 to 5 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide. Its upright habit is perfect for smaller spaces, or for an informal hedge in a narrow space, which will give height without taking up precious width. We often have awkward narrow spaces between a wall or fence and a pathway or driveway.

Now, if you have just 3 feet available, you can plant that difficult spot with a beautiful informal 5-foot hedge of evergreen foliage that will be smothered in pink blooms for months. The leaves are almost 2 inches long and about ¾ of an inch wide, covered with soft hairs when young, and semi-matte dark-green when mature. The hairs remain on the lower surface of the leaf.


But it is the flowers we all want to see, and in the Autumn Sweetheart™ Encore® Azalea they are certainly worth seeing. Each bloom is a full 2 ½ inches across, and it is mainly pale pink with a slight purple tone. The color is deepest in the heart of the open flower funnel, and then fades gently until at the margins of the petals it is near-white. This graduated color gives great depth to each bloom, creating a richness on the whole bush that is far greater than we might see with a monochrome coloring. The beauty of the flowers is enhanced by fine deeper pink-purple steaks and spots, especially at the base of the upper petals, which radiate out like fine brush strokes.

Uses in Your Garden

Most evergreen azaleas need to be cosseted in shade, but the Autumn Sweetheart™ Encore® Azalea thrives in full sun, especially in cooler regions. In the hottest areas it benefits from a little afternoon shade. It also grows well in light shade, such as against a north-facing wall, or in the dappled shade beneath deciduous trees. It looks right at home in a woodland setting, and just as good in the foundation planting around your home. Make it into an informal fence or low divide or blend it into a bed of mixed shrubs – everywhere it wins hearts.

Planting Location

The Autumn Sweetheart™ Encore® Azalea grows best in moist, well-drained, rich soil that is acidic. It prefers a pH value between 5.0 and 6.5, and if your neighbors have azaleas, you don’t even need to carry out a test, just get planting. If your soil is not suitable, then use this beautiful plant in pots or planter boxes. The fibrous root system makes azaleas perfect for pots, where they thrive for years, especially in wide, fairly shallow pots that must have a drainage hole. Use a potting soil designed for acid-loving plants, and remember to fertilize regularly with azalea food. These plants are easy to grow, and not like the fussy azaleas you may have struggled with in the past.

History and Origins of the Autumn Sweetheart™ Encore® Azalea

The Autumn Sweetheart™ Encore® Azalea began with a unique variety of a rare Taiwan azalea, Rhododendron oldhamii, called ‘Fourth of July’. This plant flowers all summer long, unlike all other azaleas, and it was discovered by Dr. John T. Thornton of C&T Nursery, Franklinton, Louisiana. He gave one of these plants to Robert (“Buddy”) E. Lee, a local azalea enthusiast and breeder. Excited by the prospect of creating a whole new group of re-blooming azaleas, Buddy set to work. He took pollen from the ‘Fourth of July’ plant, and pollinated an older, pink azalea called ‘Watchet’. He then used one of his seedlings to again pollinate ‘Watchet’, and from the resulting seedling plants he picked the best, a beautiful bi-color pink flower. He patented this plant in 2006 under the name ‘Robleja’ and added it to the Encore Azalea series as Autumn Sweetheart™.

We are so pleased to have been allocated plants of this beauty by the licensed growers, who produce top-quality plants 100% true to the carefully developed original. Pink is the most popular flower color, so any pink Encore Azaleas we receive are almost immediately gone again. So if you want this gorgeous flower for your garden, order now or be very, very disappointed.

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Autumn Sweetheart Encore® Azalea

Rhododendron ‘Robleja’ (PP #16,249)