By Gary Wade
Georgia Extension Service
Encore azaleas are causing a real stir among Georgia gardeners. Developed in Louisiana in the early 1980s, they're being promoted as "twice- blooming" (spring and fall) azaleas.
Actually, in 2002 at the Bamboo Farm and Coastal Gardens in Savannah, they had a nice spring bloom followed by sporadic blooms throughout the summer and fall.
Eight cultivars are on the market now, from a compact dwarf form 2 feet high to large, upright forms for use as background plants. Unlike other azaleas that grow vegetatively after flowering, the Encore series grows vegetatively for about a month, then begins setting buds and flowering in mid- to late summer.
Encore azaleas are patented plants sold to retailers by Flowerwood Nursery in Cairo, Ga., for about $10 per 1-gallon container. So expect a premium price at the retail level.
These cultivars are available:
- Autumn Rouge, strong pink to red, 5 ft. high by 4 ft. wide.
- Autumn Royalty, rich purple, 5 ft. high by 5 ft. wide.
- Autumn Brava, bright red, 4 ft. high by 4 ft. wide.
- Autumn Coral, coral pink, 3 ft. high by 4 ft. wide.
- Autumn Embers, orange-red, 3 ft. high by 4 ft. wide.
- Autumn Monarch, reddish flecking with ruffled edges, 5 ft. high by 5 ft. wide.
- Autumn Amethyst, vibrant purple, 4 ft. high by 4 ft. wide.
- Autumn Cheer, rose pink, 2 ft. high by 3 ft. wide.
Encore azaleas are being evaluated in test gardens in Georgia. Georgia Extension Service horticulturists say the jury is still out on their cold and heat hardiness, pest resistance and overall performance in the landscape.