Keep Your Encore Azaleas Blooming

This bed of Encore azaleas is finishing blooming, but the blooms were sparse because of their care.

Close-up of late summer bloom of Encore Azalea

Most of the Encore azaleas around town are finishing blooming. This is often the time of the lowest amount of blooms in any season. Why? It is generally due to poor care. So what should I do now to ensure that the plants are full of blooms each time they are supposed to bloom? Well, it takes three things to really make Encore azaleas bloom profusely each time. One and perhaps the most common problem is lack of fertilization. As the bloom period is finishing, fertilize the plants with a good tree and shrub fertilizer that encourage foliage and bloom set like 10-5-5 or 12-6-6. As one cycle finishes blooming, they almost immediately set the flower buds for the next bloom cycle. So if the soil you planted the azaleas in is not fertile and full of organic matter, it generally needs fertilizer. Apply after every bloom cycle which, depending on location, can be up to three times a year. Second, water is so necessary. These azaleas under water stress over several days will likely cause poor blooming, and in some cases die back. Our falls are generally very dry, so remember to deep water at least once a week, if we do not have a good rain. Also mulching helps to retain soil moisture, too. And finally make sure they are not planted in too much sun. High filtered shade is best, but over 3 to 4 hours of direct sun can stress the plants to the point that bloom performance is generally poor. One of my favorite series of Encore azaleas for our area is the Autumn series which comes in a variety of colors and has large blooms. They are available in many garden centers now.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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