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We’ve addressed all your pressing Encore Azalea care questions here. Take a look!
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In most of the country, you can plant Encore Azaleas in spring, summer or fall; check out our water instructions for more tips on establishing your new Encore Azaleas.
If planting in spring, do wait until after the fear of frost has passed. Fall is also a great time of year to plant your Encore Azalea. This will give the plant time to get its root system established before it begins to concentrate on blooming in the spring.
Encores require very little pruning to retain good form and do not need “dead-heading.” If you think your Encore Azalea needs pruning, do so immediately after the spring flowering for maximum bud set. If you wait until later in the year, it is likely that the buds for the next bloom cycle will be trimmed off and a disruption in the bloom cycle will occur. Light pruning of more established plants will stimulate growth and flowering. Use hand trimmers to selectively shape your Encore Azaleas.
You can find a list of retailers in your area which regularly stock Encores by visiting our website at www.plantencores.com, clicking on “Where to Buy” in the sidebar, and then entering your zip code. Or you may decide to buy online. If your local garden center does not currently stock Encore Azaleas, ask them to!
All Encore Azaleas are evergreens, so they’ll keep their foliage year round. Some of the varieties even have foliage that deepens into contrasting colors with cooler temperatures – check out Autumn Amethyst, Autumn Princess, Autumn Sundance for a great way to provide a splash of color to your garden even during winter months.
All 31 varieties have been bred to have a more compact growth habit than their traditional cousins. Many of our varieties grow to an easily maintainable 2-3’ tall x 3-4’ wide; see our Encores By Size page for more information.
How fast your Encore Azaleas will reach their mature size depends upon what size you start off with. Depending on where you purchase your Encores, they may be in a one-gallon nursery container, three-gallon, five-gallon, or seven-gallon. The one-gallons are the youngest plants and will take the longest to reach full size (five or six years). The seven-gallons are the most mature, but will still take three or four years to reach mature height.
There are several reasons why your Encore Azaleas may not bloom for a season; if you do not find your answer below, please contact us.
Sometimes when you plant new plants they can go through a shock period where they have to adapt to their new environment. These plants, in general, have two phases — growing and flowering. It sounds like your plants are in good health and growing fine. Nothing needs to be done and they should bloom again in the fall. It is not unnatural for them to skip a cycle because of being newly planted.
Since all 31 varieties of Encore Azaleas have been bred to bloom in three seasons, they need extra sun to do so. Make sure that your Encores are getting at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight per day (this is crucial for blooms). They perform best in sun to partial shade, preferably afternoon partial shade. Each variety of Encore has a different personality, some blooming earlier, longer, or more profusely.
If your Encore shrubs are healthy and growing, but not producing blooms, you might want to try a fertilizer to promote blooms. Encores are treated with fertilizers before they are shipped out from the nursery, so we do not recommend fertilizing within the first year. However, if they are approaching a year old, you might want to fertilize with a product with a higher middle number (indicating phosphorus content) which will promote more blooms. Fertilizing with a mixture that is heavy on the nitrogen will promote growth rather than blooms.
All varieties do well in full sun if care is taken to follow the cultural practices found here. Special attention to watering is critical. Plants must not be allowed to become dry. Most Encore Azaleas perform very well in full sun conditions or high filtered shade. Make sure to plant a few inches above ground level and amending the soil with organic material. These 2 ingredients ensure that Encores will thrive.
When the temperature suddenly drops and maintains 25 degrees or below, provide additional protection by driving stakes into the ground around the plants and draping material over the stakes. Choose burlap or any cloth material so the azalea receives air flow. Be sure the cover does not have direct contact with the plants as this can injure the foliage. Cover is especially beneficial for new azaleas or azaleas that were recently transplanted and have not had enough time to establish a strong root system.
During the hot summer months, and especially during their first year in the ground when the root system is developing, azaleas need plenty of water. Make sure to thoroughly soak the root ball twice per week, allowing the moisture to seep 2″ deep. (After the first year when the roots are fully established, they won’t need as much water.) It is important to have good drainage around your Encores so that water does not stand around the fibrous root ball; the shallow, fibrous roots like to dry out a little in between waterings. If the roots get too much water, root rot can set in, and the moisture won’t be delivered to the upper plant. Because damp or dry weather will dictate how much water your Encores need, monitor your waterings carefully to find the right balance; don’t depend on scheduled watering.
Like all living things, Encore Azaleas must be fed. When it comes to fertilizer, there is no specific brand that we recommend. You can ask at your local garden center for a well-balanced, slow release, granular azalea/camellia fertilizer. You can tell if the mix is well-balanced if the three numbers on the packaging are the same or similar. These numbers indicate the amount of nitrogen (promotes plant growth and for foliage), phosphorus (promotes blooms), and potassium (strengthens roots and stems). Whatever brand you choose, apply according to label instructions around the base of the shrub, and water well. Fertilize once at the beginning of each spring — after the fear of frost has passed. You may find that this will be the only time you need to fertilize. However, if you feel you need to fertilize again, do so before August. Azaleas are sensitive to heavy fertilization. Fertilizing after August will encourage new, tender growth that can be damaged by early frost. For an added nutrient boost you can also apply liquid fertilizer directly to the foliage and roots. Just follow label directions and use once every two weeks or so.
Encores are very adaptable when it comes to sunlight. Encore Azaleas perform well in many locations – full sun, part sun and part shade. More light typically means more blooms. The ideal planting environment provides 4-6 hours of direct or filtered sunlight, with some shade during the afternoon heat.
Encore Azaleas may require midday and afternoon shade in areas like the deep South, Southwest and Southern California, where sun and heat are more intense.
Like all azaleas, Encore Azaleas require a slightly acidic soil. Adding humus, pine straw or pine mulch, and/or peat moss will bring the pH in your soil down some, as will an acidifying fertilizer from your local garden center. For best results, I suggest contacting a local nursery or garden center, who will be more familiar with the conditions in your area, and might assist you in taking a soil sample, and make suggestions specific to your area and according to your planting needs.
Encore varieties can grow to between 2.5 and 5.5 feet. View Encore Azaleas by Size to see the mature sizes for all 31 varieties. Since plants don’t ever stop growing, the “mature size” listed in the Encore Azalea literature is not a maximum height, but a size that is easily maintainable through yearly pruning. We suggest cleaning out old leaves to allow foliage to flush out and using hand trimmers to prune off any tall shoots back inside the body of the plant. For overall shaping, we have found that trimming immediately after the spring bloom cycle is the best time. Pruning immediately after the spring bloom will limit disruption of future bloom cycles. Pruning later in the year will remove the buds that have set for the next bloom cycle.
Fall is the best time to transplant your Encores, but this can be done in Spring, Summer, or Fall, using the same care you did when planting. Make sure to dig a big enough area to include the fibrous root system, which will have spread out some. A general guide is that the root system will be about as big under the ground as the upper plant is above ground. You may notice that the bloom cycle may be erratic in the year following a transplant; this will correct itself as your Encores get settled into their new environment. Moving is stressful for plants as well as humans! Make sure they get enough water the first few weeks after their move.
Most Encore Azalea varieties have demonstrated that they can thrive in zone 6, and some may also grow well in zone 5, although they will need a bit more protection. Two facts to consider when planting: 1. Be sure that your Encore Azaleas receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. 2. Planting in spring or early summer is advised. As your Encores mature and get more established in their environment, they will be better able to withstand cold temperatures. Young plants are more susceptible to sudden, drastic drops in temperatures, and sustained cold weather (25 degrees or below).
For More Cold Protection: Mulch well (about 4 inches deep) in the fall. Reduce water for a month or so before the first frost. Then, after a couple of hard freezes, water well to provide moisture. This will help the plants to go dormant, or “harden off”. As you would with any outdoor ornamental plants, Encore Azaleas may need some extra protection during sudden freezes and extremely cold weather. Sudden, drastic drops in temperature are more damaging than a gradual decline, especially to newly planted shrubs. Burlap, old blankets, or sheets (any cloth material) can be used to cover upper plants. It is recommended that you drive stakes in the ground around your Encore and drape the cloth cover over stakes. Foliage in contact with the cover can be injured, so try to minimize cover contact with the plant. You can also try Encore Azaleas in containers so that you can bring them inside in extremely cold weather.
Encore Azaleas are not drought tolerant and should receive supplemental water the first year until established. Special care must be taken the first year to make sure plants do not become too dry. Established Encore Azaleas need very little supplemental irrigation.