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History of Encore Azaleas

Encore ‘carnation’

People who adore spring-blooming azaleas can now enjoy an explosion of Encore® Azalea color season after season. Encore® Azaleas are the only patented brand of azaleas to bloom in spring, summer and fall.

Each of the 24 Encore varieties begins its performance with the spring flowering season. Once this “first act” of blooming concludes, new shoots begin to grow and set buds.

The Encore® Azalea’s “second act” opens when these buds begin blooming into full flower mid-summer. This unique bloom season continues through the fall, the curtain dropping with the onset of cold weather. But, the show goes on.

Encore ’embers’

As an “encore,” these exceptional azaleas flower again with traditional spring azaleas and the process starts over.

Invented by plant breeder Robert E. “Buddy” Lee of Independence, La., the evergreen Encore® Azaleas enjoy more sun than traditional azaleas, but offer the same easy care.

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.

Encore Azaleas feature these unique attributes:

  • No other brand of azalea blooms spring, summer & fall
  • 24 varieties
  • Little maintenance
  • Vibrant color
  • More sun-tolerant than traditional azaleas
  • Great as base plants in container gardens
  • Attractive to butterflies

Encore Azaleas are recommended for zones 7 to 10 and are especially cold and heat hardy with a higher resistance to disease and pests than traditional azaleas. University cold-hardiness trials also suggest that some varieties of Encore Azalea are suitable for zones 6b and 6a.

Adapted from the Encore Azaleas Website

[Editor’s note: Behnke Nurseries garden centers are in hardiness zone 7, so Encore Azaleas are ideal for our area.]

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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