Richard C. Bogren, Owings, Allen D.
News Release Distributed 03/08/13
By Allen Owings
LSU AgCenter horticulturist
HAMMOND, La. – New varieties from the Encore azalea group are coming this spring. Many of the Encore azaleas now have improved cold hardiness (normally not a problem in Louisiana), sun tolerance and lacebug resistance. Encore azaleas bloom three seasons – spring, summer and fall.
Encore azaleas were developed by Louisiana nursery grower and plant breeder Robert E. "Buddy" Lee of Independence. Lee first envisioned Encore azaleas in the early 1980s when he found a tray of azalea cuttings blooming in the summer sun at his small Louisiana azalea nursery. Inspired, he began crossing traditional spring-blooming azaleas with the rare Taiwanese summer-blooming azalea, Rhododendron oldhamii. After many years, the Encore azaleas were ready for their gardening debut.
With the addition of Autumn Sunburst, Autumn Lily, Autumn Ivory and Autumn Jewel, the entire collection now includes 29 varieties containing a range of flower colors and sizes.
A bright highlight in the garden, Autumn Sunburst grows compactly and blooms profusely in spring, summer and fall. Its visually unique blooms, measuring 2.5 inches, are bicolor – coral pink with white ruffled edges – and stand out against the compact dark green foliage. This variety grows 4 feet tall by 3.5 feet wide.
Autumn Ivory is a compact grower that bursts with huge quantities of two-inch, bright white flowers spring, summer, and fall. Its dwarf size of almost 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide makes Autumn Ivory one of the best varieties for containers and foundation plantings.
Robust and upright with deep green foliage, Autumn Lily produces three-inch white blooms with occasional single purple stripes. Its strong growth and profuse blooms make Autumn Lily perfect for mass and foundation plantings. This variety grows to 5 feet wide by 5 feet tall.
Autumn Jewel provides landscape color year-round with its two-inch pink blooms in spring, summer and fall, along with attractive purple winter foliage. Mature size is 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide.
Azaleas need a partial sun to partial shaded planting location. Plants do best in well-drained raised landscape beds. A soil pH of 5.5 is ideal. Plants should be mulched with pine straw. Uniformity in soil moisture is also important.
The unique multi-season blooming Encore azaleas are available at many Louisiana garden centers. You can see many azaleas, including the Encore group and other spring- and-fall flowering varieties, planted in the Margie Jenkins Azalea Garden at the LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station, located in Hammond, La.
You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by viewing the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website. Also, like us on Facebook. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals.