Last (early) October, I planted three healthy Encore Autumn Empress azaleas. They had about eight weeks to establish their roots before "winter" arrived. However, during the winter I noticed they were all turning brown. I really wasn't sure if they were going to make it. The one out in the open (pictured) is a lot worse than the others that were sheltered between my house and garage. Now that spring is upon us, I'm wondering if the browning was normal? Was it just the cold from the winter? Or should that not have happened? This is my first go at azaleas. Will they green up by themselves? Or should I prune them? I'm really hoping to see pretty blooms this summer/fall.
Hey. I'm practically a neighbor--Christiana. Some browning will happen. I have several Encore azaleas and they do brown to varying degrees in the winter. A branch or two may also die. But mine keep coming back in the spring. One of them put on a very nice show last October.
I love them.
The browns that you have suggest winter damage or some lack of moisture during the winter months. If the stems do not leaf out by April or thereabouts (they should leaf out after the flowers bloom at the latest), prune the dead parts.
Not sure how hardy Encore is but my Norther Lights series azaleas turn brown and lose all their leaves each winter. Then in early spring leaf out and have gorgeous flowers with a wonderful fragrance. I guess you guys consider azaleas evergreen down there. My rhody has a tough time over winter due to dessication (wind and sun) but if I protect it is is evergreen also. Loaded with buds right now and will be popping around the middle end of June.
Northern Lights are a deciduous azalea even down here. That's their nature. The Encores are classed as evergreen. But that characteristic depends on what zone they are in. I'd say my Encores are semi-deciduous but only because I'm probably a little too north of their preferred zone.