Plant for Success: Encore® Azalea inventor Buddy Lee shares five fall planting tips


Fall is an excellent time to plant shrubs such as Encore® Azaleas.

When the summer heat gives way to the cooler days and nights of early fall, conditions become ideal for newly-planted azalea roots to establish themselves. Also, as temperatures moderate, soil moisture becomes more available to the azalea root season – meaning less watering. Simply stated, fall conditions are less stressful to plants. Azaleas planted in the fall have the opportunity to establish their roots in the soil, and are ready to thrive as the spring growing season begins.

However, to ensure success, Encore® Azaleas must be planted correctly. Here are five planting tips from Encore® inventor Buddy Lee.

1. Plant Encore® Azaleas in acidic soil. They love soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.  

2. Ensure adequate drainage when planting.

Encore® Azaleas have a fibrous and shallow root system – they hate wet feet! Amend soils that do not drain well, such as heavy clay and/or soils that are not acidic, with an organic material such as fine pine bark, peat moss or acidic compost. 

3. Ideally, plant Encore® Azaleas in raised beds, particularly in areas of inadequate drainage.

Here’s how:

Dig a hole two- to three-times larger and about the same depth as the root ball. Carefully remove the azalea root ball from the container and ensure it is moist before planting. With your fingers, gently loosen some of the outer roots. This will allow them to more easily establish themselves in the soil. Allow a couple of inches of the root ball to remain above the grade of the bed when planting. Backfill with soil. Water thoroughly, and then mulch with two- to three-inches of pine nuggets, pine straw or another type of acidic mulch. Water two to three times a week, if needed.  

Note: Generally, less watering is needed in the fall. Also, as the fall air temperatures get cooler, the soil will remain warm, allowing the azalea roots to continue to establish themselves in the soil until winter conditions arrive.  

4. Do not fertilize or prune newly-planted Encore® Azaleas.

These actions could encourage the growth of new foliage. Then, as colder weather arrives, the new foliage or even the entire plant could be damaged.

5. Cover Encore® Azaleas if severe winter cold approaches.

Then, as winter gives way to spring, gardeners can simply relax and watch their Encore® Azaleas bloom, knowing they are well prepared to take on the summer heat and drought.

To browse the Encore Azalea Collection, click here.