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Archive date:  September 14, 2006

Take Care of Your Encore Azaleas

The Azalea that knows no season

The Plant: Encore Azaleas are similar to traditional azaleas in that they require proper planting, watering and care to thrive in their new home. Here are a few simple guidelines to help your new plants grow to their fullest potential.

Ground Preparation: Dig a hole 6-8 inches deep and fill it with water. If the hole drains within a few hours, you have good drainage. If the water is still standing 12 hours later, improve the drainage in your bed. You may have to take corrective action, perhaps by establishing a raised bed. A soil sample is always a good idea. Azaleas are acid-loving plants, so optimum PH levels in the soil should be between 5.5 and 6.5.

Planting: Turn the soil well and dig a hole twice as wide as it is deep. Mix some organic compost or peat moss with the soil. (This is especially important if you have sandy or heavy clay soil.) Remove your Encore Azalea® from its container and loosen the root ball. Set the plant into the hole you’ve prepared, making sure the top of the root ball is above the soil level. Pull your soil around the plant, water thoroughly and cover with mulch. Encore Azalea® perform best in sun to partial shade, preferably afternoon partial shade. They will tolerate full sunlight, but care must be taken to prevent them from exposure to drought or other related stress conditions.

Spring & Summer Planting Care: Water your Encore Azalea® well when you first plant it, and keep the soil moist until winter. New azaleas will die quickly if the soil dries excessively. Your new Encore Azalea should not need regular watering after the first year unless there are periods of excessive drought. Fertilize with the recommended levels of azalea feed soon after planting. Do not fertilize after August. This fertilizing schedule is highly recommended for areas with sandy soils.

Fall & Winter Planting Care: Encore Azaleas® do well when they are planted at this time. New roots produced in the fall will help the azalea flourish in the next growing season. Although less watering is necessary, do not allow the roots to become dry. Cover your young azalea with insulating covering when extreme cold weather approaches. As your Encore Azalea® matures, it will need less winter care. Do not fertilize until after the last frost. When you do fertilize, use azalea feed as directed. This fertilizing schedule is highly recommended in areas with sandy soils.

Pruning: Encore Azaleas® 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. Light pruning of more established plants will stimulate growth and flowering.

Spacing: Encore Azaleas® should be planted the same width apart as the mature dimensions specify. This measurement should be taken from the center of one plant to the center of the other. For example: Autumn Angel's mature dimensions are 3 feet wide. In order to have mature Autumn Angel Encore Azaleas bunched next to each other, you should plant them 3 feet apart, starting at the center of one plant and measuring to the center of the other. If you would like space between your azaleas, you should separate them by more than the mature width dimensions.