By Norman Winter
Encore® has become the azalea to which all others are compared. After all, they are not only incredibly beautiful, but they repeat bloom. Just consider reveling in a glorious spring bloom of your favorite colors, and then, because of careful breeding and selection, growth resumes and another bloom cycle is initiated. That’s not the end of the story either, as this process is repeated – culminating in a dazzling fall display prior to winter’s rest. Hence, ours all have the first name Autumn, which delineates Encore® Azaleas from the rest.
So, as you are developing your landscape – whether starting with a blank slate, or making improvements – you should consider adding Encore® Azaleas. There are 31 varieties from which to choose for your beautification project. As you select your planting location, take a trip down memory lane and remember what you learned about photosynthesis in science class. That’s right! Those leaves are like little solar panels trapping sunlight and converting energy for the plants food production, and in the case of Encore® Azaleas, that translates to shoot growth and more blooms.
Your new Encore® Azaleas want to bloom and bloom – and it’s just the right amount of sunlight (4 to 6 hours), which will keep those stunning blossoms in production through fall. Ideally, you want morning sun and afternoon shade protection. Consider also high shifting or filtered light. As the earth moves during the day, sunlight comes in and out, giving Encore® Azaleas an accumulation of light perfect for leaf growth to occur, followed by those colorful flowers.
The direction your home faces may help offer some considerations:
The good news is Encore® Azaleas are tough and adaptable to much sunnier locations than you might otherwise consider, as long as needed moisture is available. Take precautions to prevent exposure to excessive drought or other heat-related issues brought on by the intensity of full sun on west facing walls, driveways and sidewalks. On the other hand, dense shade doesn’t allow Encore® Azaleas to achieve their true potential. Blooms will be diminished, and the overall stature of the plant can become somewhat leggy. So, keep this in mind as you scout the best opportunities around your home for your new shrub bed.
A bed is just what is recommended, versus sticking an award-winning Encore® Azalea into a turf area, or a plot of tight-compacted clay. Similarly to what we would suggest for perennials, Encore® Azaleas prefer fertile, organic, rich soil that has been well prepared, and that offers drainage. The incorporation of compost and organic matter improves tight, heavy soil, allowing for best drainage. Add a layer of mulch after planting and again each year. Azaleas keep their roots near the soil surface, and this annual decomposition of mulch and organic matter will maintain a good environment for new roots and assist with moisture retention.
Thirty-one varieties of Encore® Azaleas open the door to a world of landscape and container opportunities with a dazzling array of colors, plant sizes and even flower forms. Our website, www.encoreazalea.com, offers everything you need to know about selecting, growing and landscaping with these tough, yet lovely azaleas.