I love Encore Azaleas this time of year. They re-bloom in the spring and then again in the fall and even sometimes in January. This particular variety is ‘Autumn Empress’ and I have them growing by my pond. ‘Autumn Empress’, has an upright, thick growth habit (4 feet tall and 3 feet wide) with large deep, green leaves. It produces semi-double, deep pink 2.25 inch to 2.75 inch in diameter blooms. It starts to bloom a little later in the spring than do most azaleas. These azaleas require full sun with afternoon shade or light shade and well drained, slightly acidic rich soil. It is supposed to have a fast growth rate and be drought tolerant.
In my experience, these azaleas are more forgiving of dry conditions than the other Encores but all Encores require babying especially for the first 2-3 years of planting. I love the blooms though and the twice or three times a year they bloom makes it worth the extra trouble. It is about now that I will fertilize all my azaleas, gardenias, and camelias and any other acid loving plants I have. Azaleas aren’t heavy feeders per se but they do love acid soil and the soil in this area is alkaline. So I planted them in almost pure peat moss and fertilize with a special mix twice a year. When not in bloom these shrubs are evergreen.
Happy Gardening and remember to “bee” positive!