By Allen Owings
One of the main benefits of Encore Azaleas – beyond their stunning blooms – is their evergreen foliage. All of the Encore varieties keep their foliage year-round as compared to native varieties of azaleas, which are deciduous (meaning they lose foliage in mid- to late-fall and new foliage emerges in late winter to early spring).
Autumn Amethyst Winter Foliage
Most Encores have medium- to dark-green foliage all year. On occasion, you will see Encore Azaleas with less green foliage – some of the white flowering varieties have lighter green foliage. Fall and winter foliage on some of the varieties – check out Autumn Amethyst™, Autumn Princess™ and Autumn Sundance™ for example – have purple to bronzy tinges as cooler temperatures and shorter daylengths set in. This foliage color change enhances the look of your Encores in the winter landscape.
As with all types of evergreen plants, Encore Azaleas drop foliage in the late winter and early spring as new foliage emerges. You may also see some natural defoliation of lower growing foliage at other times of the year – this would be contributable to drought or excess moisture stress, low soil fertility (lacking fertilizer) and shading from the upper canopy. Annual fertilization in the spring after flowering (using an azalea food) helps with foliage color. Also, having your azaleas growing in the recommended acid soil helps foliage color and vigor.