History

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Encore Azaleas in the Landscape

The Birth of Encore Azaleas

People who adore spring blooming azaleas can now enjoy an explosion of Encore® Azalea color season after season.

Encore® Azaleas are the only patented brand of azaleas to bloom in spring, summer and fall. Each of the 29 Encore varieties begins their performance with the spring flowering season. Once this “first act” of blooming concludes, new shoots begin to grow and set buds. The Encore® Azalea's "second act" opens when these buds begin blooming into full flower mid-summer. This unique bloom season continues through the fall, the curtain dropping with the onset of cold weather. But, the show goes on. As an "encore," these exceptional azaleas flower again with traditional spring azaleas and the process starts over.

Invented by plant breeder Robert E. "Buddy" Lee of Independence, La., the evergreen Encore® Azaleas enjoy more sun than traditional azaleas, but offer the same easy care. Lee first envisioned Encore Azaleas in the early 1980's when he found a tray of azalea cuttings blooming in the summer sun at his small Louisiana azalea nursery. Inspired, he began crossing traditional spring-blooming azaleas with the rare Taiwanese summer-blooming azalea, Rhododendron oldhamii.

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Buddy LeeWho is Buddy? 

Robert "Buddy" Lee is a nationally known plant breeder and currently serves as Director of Plant Innovations for PDSI, the new plant innovation company that manages the Encore® Azalea and the Southern Living® Plant Collection.

Buddy is one of the most respected plant breeders and horticulturalists in North America, with over 30 years’ experience in nursery management, breeding, propagation and new plant development. He is active in numerous organizations, including the Azalea Society of America, the International Plant Propagators Society, and the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association.

In 2000, the Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association recognized Buddy Lee’s significant contribution to the industry by presenting him with a Professional Achievement Award; and in 2007, the Azalea Society of America awarded him the Society’s Distinguished Service Award.