I have been growing Encore azaleas in my mid-Atlantic garden since they were introduced, and in my position as a buyer for Meadows Farms nurseries and landscaping I have had the opportunity to test several varieties prior to introduction. In particular, it has been important to me to evaluate plants with a claim of improvement over ones traditionally recognized. Some have proved to be outstanding, others not so.
Encore azaleas claim to bloom spring, summer, and fall, and I have witnessed this to be true in visits to Flowerwood Nursery in the Mobile Alabama area. I have toured the nurseries in July and early December when most varieties of Encore were in full bloom. My concern, however, was whether the repeat blooming would perform as well further north.
The answer is that they do not, but I have experienced enough dependable reblooming in September-October to declare Encore azaleas a valuable garden plant. My initial experience in growing Encores was only slightly satisfactory, with very few autumn blooms. I was advised that the culprit was likely to be too much shade, and in subsequent plantings they were given nearly full sun. In sunnier conditions the azaleas have performed well.
Fall blooming performance seems to be dependent on the variety and the timing of the onset of consistently cold temperatures. I have selected Encores for my landscape customers that bloom dependably, although our garden centers carry a broader range and I have yet to hear of any complaints. I don’t believe that we’ll ever have summer flowers since our bloom time is at least a month later than Gulf Coast states, and I don’t think that they are able to reset buds before the onset of inhospitable summer temperatures.
This year the Encores bloomed beginning mid-September with the heaviest flowering in October. Blooming was interrupted by heavy frost and freezes the second week of November. I’ve never been a big azalea fan, but Encores have earned their spot in the garden.
The top two photos are ‘Autumn Twist’ Encore with the top the spring flower, and the second showing them blooming as heavily in late October as they did in the spring.
The third picture is ‘Autumn Princess’ which has proved to be the stongest fall bloomer in my garden. The fourth is ‘Autumn Amethyst’. The bottom photo is ‘Autumn Royalty’.
For more information on Encore azaleas visit the website at EncoreAzaleas.com. For more information on Meadows Farms, and locations in the Washington DC area where Encore azaleas can be purchased, go to our website at MeadowsFarms.com.