Amazing Azaleas


Azaleas are a member of the genus Rhododendron. There are more than 800 species of Rhododendron and of these approximately 40 species are evergreen azaleas. There are also several specials of deciduous azaleas. Deciduous azaleas are native to Asia, southern Europe and North America. The honey suckle azalea, or Rhododendron canescens, grows as a native in wooded areas here in Louisiana. The flame azalea, or Rhododendron austrinum, also is an indigenous azalea of Louisiana.

Azalea history:

  • Evergreen azaleas are native to Asia, particularly Japan where they have been hybridized for centuries.
  • They were introduced to North America in the 1800s.
  • Rosedown Plantation records evergreen azaleas planted in 1848.
  • Evergreen dwarf azaleas were introduced at 1915 World’s Fair (Coral Bells was the hybrid introduced.)
  • Common evergreen azaleas for Louisiana:
    • Rhododendron indicum- These azaleas are large, robust, spring bloomers.
    • Most common: Formosa, Pride of Mobile, George Tabor, Mrs. G. G. Gerbing, President Clay, Judge Solomon.
    • Rhododendron obtusum- This is dwarf or semi-dwarf.
    • There are many hybrids in this category:
    • Karume azalea- commonly planted are ‘Coral Bells,’ ‘Christmas Cheer,’ ‘Hershey Red,’ ‘Snow’
    • Satsuki hybrids- These are bred for later blooming and for spreading growth habit. Often planted satsukis are: ‘Gumpo,’ ‘Chinzan,’ ‘Macrantha.’
    • Robin Hill hybrids are bred for the variety of flower color and type, and cold hardiness. ‘Conversation Piece,’ and ‘Watchet’ are popular Robin Hill hybrids.
    • Glenn Dale hybrid- These are bred for cold hardiness. ‘Fashion’ is a good example.
    • Encore Azaleas are bred for extended blooming.
    • Encore began hybridizing in 1990 by horticulturist Buddy Lee. There are about 30 Encore hybrids today.
  • Considerations when planting azaleas:
    • Amount of sunlight/ shade
    • Soil PH
    • Drainage
  • Azalea Care:
    • Fertilizing
    • Pruning
    • Mulching
    • Disease/Insect Control
  • Encore Azaleas bloom in spring, summer and fall!
  • Each of the many Encore varieties begins their performance with the spring flowering Once this “first act” of blooming concludes in spring, new shoots begin to grow and set buds. The Encore Azalea’s “second act” opens when these buds begin blooming into full flower during summer. This unique bloom season continues through the fall, the curtain dropping with the onset of cold weather. But, the show goes on.
  • Planting & Caring for Encore Azaleas
  • Encore Azaleas are similar to traditional azaleas in that they require proper planting, watering and care to Here are a few simple guidelines to help your new plants grow to their full potential:

Sun Exposure

  • Encore Azaleas perform best in sites that offer anywhere from full sun to part shade. All day filtered sun or morning sun with afternoon shade are okay. A minimum of four hours of direct sunlight per day is required for proper Too much shade can result in skipped or significantly reduced bloom cycles.

Check Soil Drainage

  • Encore Azaleas grow best in a soil that is well-drained but As with many other plants, they do not like a constantly soggy or wet soil, which can lead to root rot and other plant diseases. If you are uncertain about soil drainage in the area you intend to plant your Encore Azaleas, it’s well worth taking the time to test the drainage before planting. To test soil drainage, diiiig a hole 12″ wide by 12″ in the planting area. Fill the hole with water and let it drain. Then, after it drains, fill it with water again, but this time clock how long it takes to drain. In well-drained soil the water level will go down at a rate of about 1 inch an hour. A faster rate, such as in loose, sandy soil, may signal potentially dry site conditions .  A slower rate indicates poor draining soil and could be a caution you might need to improve drainage , plant in a raised mound or bed, or look for plants that are more tolerant of wet or boggy conditions.


  • How you intend to use your Encore Azaleas will determine how far apart you space them . When planting a hedge, space plants the same width apart as the mature dimensions This measurement should be taken from the center of one plant to the center of the other. If you want space between plants separate them by more than the mature width dimensions.


  • Dig a hole at a depth equal to the height and two to three times as wide as the container your Encore Azalea was growing in. Turn and break up the soil removed from the planting hole. Mix some compost, such as Root Zone Organic Planting Mix with the so This is especially important iiiiiiiif you have heavy clay soil. Remove your Encore Azalea from its container and carefully but firmly loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the root ball. Set the plant into the hole you’ve prepared, making sure the top of the root ball is slightly above the soil level. Pull your soil around the plant, water thoroughly and cover with a 1- to 1.5-inch layer of shredded wood mulch or pine straw.


Water your Encore Azalea deeply when you first plant it. During the first growing season keep the soil moist, but not wet, until winter. New azaleas will die quickly if the soil dries excessively, and they can develop root rot if the soil stays constantly soggy. So just keep the soil moist during the first growing season. Your Encore Azaleas should not need regular watering after the first year unless there are periods of excessive drought. Wilting new leaves are a sign your plants need a good deep soaking.


Fertilize with the recommended levels of azalea food or a “goof proof’ organic fertilizer such as Nitroganic soon after planting . After, feed after the first bloom cycle in spring. To avoid damage from an early frost in fall, cease feeding after August.


Encore Azaleas do not have to be pruned, or their flowers deadheaded .That being said, they respond very well to pruning and, in fact, will benefit from it. Encore Azaleas are unique in that they bloom in the spring, summer and fall. So when is the best time to prune them? Unlike most other types of azaleas, which only set flower buds one time a year during fall and then bloom in spring, Encore Azaleas produce buds every time new growth is produced. So, pruning Encore Azaleas immediately after the spring bloom cycle will encourage more new growth, and consequently more flower buds. When pruning a healthy Encore Azalea, use sharp pair of bypass hand pruners to cut back branches that have outgrown the rest of the shrub and are spoiling the shape of the plant. Cut these branches back to a point just a couple or few inches above the main form of the plant. Make your cuts about an inch or so above a leaf.