I'm a total virgin when it comes to rhododendrums & azaleas, but interested in this new Encore series. Anyone out there knowledgeable about them?
I'm in mid-north FL, evidently the zone is OK, but I'm sure I'll need amendments to our sandy soil. Any recommendations on that?
Any help would be appreciated! :) TIA
I'm a total virgin when it comes to rhododendrums & azaleas, but interested in this new Encore series. Anyone out there knowledgeable about them?
I am certainly no expert but I added some peat moss and mushroom compost when I planted mine and they are doing well. Maybe someone will check in soon and we both will know.
Like any other azalea, they prefer acidic soil so I'd check your soil pH. I'd also definitely add some sort of compost, otherwise with sandy soil you'll probably be watering constantly, plus sandy soil often isn't very rich in nutrients so compost will definitely help with that too. The name "Encore" is because they will frequently rebloom later in the year in addition to their usual spring flush. Here's the Encore website, it's got some care tips as well as general info about them http://www.encoreazalea.com/encore/
Thanks for posting. I had check the website before planting--guess I did right as mine are looking good and putting on new growth.
Be aware that new blooms do not just happen as soon as the old ones fade away. There is a time period of several weeks to a month in between.
Yeap, I was aware of that. Still very happy with the progress of my plants and certainly living up to what I envisioned for the area where they are planted. Moved here about 3 years ago and loads of nice green texture all around but I needed some color added.
Thanks for your advice - I'm new to FL & we were planning on just "going green" around our screened lanai, so any blooms will be a plus, Luis ;) I'm attracted to the idea the Encores don't grow HUGE - one of the things I'm learning about central FL, either things don't grow at all or become monsters, LOL.
Ecrane3, I was wondering about the pros & cons of peat moss vs. pine bark to get the correct acidity.
Abbisgranma, how long ago did you plant yours? I'll be interested to see how they progress. Thanks again!
I'll start by being honest that I leave my soil the way it is, it's hard to create permanent pH changes in a garden bed, so I stick with plants that like my soil the way it is, or else they get grown in containers or I just don't grow them at all. As far as how to amend, a lot depends on what your starting pH is...have you checked that? If your current pH is already slightly acidic, then you probably don't need to do much except incorporate your favorite organic amendments/compost/etc to make the soil richer, and then feed with a fertilizer for acid-loving plants. If your pH is quite alkaline, then I'm not sure that either peat moss or pine bark will have a significant enough effect on the pH, you may want to look for something like sulfur instead which will make bigger changes in pH (but over time your soil is always going to tend to drift back to your normal pH, so this is not a one-time thing, you'll have to keep up on it)
As far as peat vs pine...I would choose pine because it's a more sustainable, more renewable resource. I know in some areas there are efforts being made to harvest peat in a more sustainable manner, but I'd need to see some good info from whoever I was buying it from on how they were managing their peat bogs before I'd even consider buying it. And there are bad ways to manage/harvest pine too, but it's not quite as bad a situation as the peat, plus I think many of the trees that wind up in bark mulch were probably cut down for other things that needed the wood but not the bark, so the bark went to mulch
denisemb, I had an aunt who lived in Ocala in Top of The World off Hwy 200. She had an azalea that was planted in the ground, in sandy soil ammended with compost galore. It grew well but ended up transplanted into a pot so she could water it more easily. It appeared never to need adjustments to the soil and never suffered from iron chlorosis while on the ground. That suggested to me that the soil was already acidic and needed no tweaking other than lots of compost. Sandy soil by itself requires that you water 30-50% more than normal. Adding compost and lots of mulch minimizes the problem and provides some extra nutrients lacking in sandy soil.
Thanks for being patient with me - you guys are helping a lot -before I make expensive mistakes! (Luis, TOTW is just a coupla miles down the road - small world!)
I'll continue to be a PITB - what the best way to test the soil? Going through a county extension thing? Will they give me instructions? I've got one of those stick-in-the-ground "meter" things (mostly for moisture sensing - my husband has a tendency to overwater containers and he loves gadgets) and that came up with around 7 ph today - but I understand they're NOT the most accurate.
Arrggh! Maybe I'll put up a privacy screen instead, LOL. I'm just trying to avoid some of the "standard" holly & nandina schrubs common around here as we had some existing when we moved in that need weekly trimming to keep under control...
You probably have several options to check soil acidity. Locally, a neighbor answered the question for me because she had done a "real" soil test via a local nursery that does free soil tests in February. Living just across the street, I figured that her results would apply to me as well.
Another choice is to go to a local nursery or one of the big guys (HD or Lowes). Most of them sell low priced kits that approximate the soil Ph in some way. A few models will use numbers while others use colors to indicate acidic or alkaline. They are cheapo kits so be aware that they approximate the results.
A real test by your Agric Extension Service may be worth doing once every 5 years or so and is worth it since it includes information about other minerals too. My Ag. Ext Service will mail me a package of instructions and plastic bags in which to store 2 soil samples. I can then mail them back or drive to their office. The analysis is then mailed to me.
PS - I just thought about the Encore's blooming schedule yesterday as I worked to provide more shade to a nearby camellia. Here are a few things that I recalled. Autumn Amethyst bloomed this Spring (late March to early April), should be blooming some time in the summer months (now would be nice) and should bloom again in the Fall (September or October). Autumn Royalty used to do the same until the pooches went beserk trying to get to a squirrel and broke it in half. Bloomage in Spring is always the largest and best of the other two blooming episodes. In general, those reblooming episodes generally do not match the Spring display; they may have 75% as many blooms as Spring's display or less. In a handful of occasions thru the years, the Summer/Fall blooms have been puny for whatever reason but normally they are not. In years when the winter months have been warm, I get a few random blooms again in December. You can probably count those with one hand though.
Hi, Tia. I'm in NE Florida and have had experience in growing Encore azaleas, both in my home garden and when employed in the horticulture department at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
Getting a soil test through your local county Extension Office is probably easiest and most reliable. There is no charge for a pH (soil acid/alkalinity test), but you can pay extra for the full test showing minerals present.
Our Florida sandy soil requires constant replenishment with organic matter. I collect oak leaves and pine straw (when my neighbors rake their yards and bag up the debris) and just use this as a thick mulch in winter or let it compost in a pile, then add compost when planting. There are LOTS of thoroughbred horse farms in the Ocala area. Check around and see which stables have horse manure to give away (they are usually anxious to get rid of it). If taken from the stalls, the manure will probably have coarse sawdust mixed in, which is another good soil additive. If the manure is fresh, it needs to sit for about a year to compost completely, but the stables may already have piles of manure/sawdust that have already been composting for a year or so.
I increase the acidity of the soil around my azaleas with coffee grounds and have beautiful, fully lush green azaleas covered with blooms in the spring. I rely upon Starbuck's "Grounds for your Garden" initiative for most of my coffee grounds. Starbuck's outlets generally have the grounds already bagged in a bin by the door, or you can ask them for whatever grounds they have collected for the day and just take them out in the garbage bag (much to the delight of the employees since they then don't have to bag them up).
The Encore azaleas do stay semi-dwarf. They seem to be easy care so long as you have them in soil enriched with organic matter and apply coffee grounds around the top of them whenever you get coffee grounds. The bloom time in spring tends to last longer than other azaleas, and then they do rebloom again later in the year. They will probably do best if they have some period of shade during the day.
I wish you lived closer. The Lowe's nearest my house had two racks of Encore azaleas in good condition for half-price yesterday. $3 for 1 gal, $5 for 5 gal. They were mostly in the red and pink colors. I grabbed the last two 'Autumn Moonlight' white Encores yesterday and they still had quite a few flowers on them. Send me a D-mail if you happen to read this anytime soon and want me to go back to the Lowe's and load up on Encores for you. You could pick them up from me when convenient and pay the actual purchase price.
I hope no one minds if I jump in here. I am so pleased to read the info about the Encores. I never knew coffee grounds were good for them. Thanks for that bit of information. I put out 9 this year and have been very pleased with mine and they are in filtered shade. Guess I will have more reason to stop by Starbucks when I go into town today.
Coffee grounds are good for just about any plant out there. They are high in nitrogen to which many plants respond quickly but they do not alter the acidity level as much as if you were to amend with sulphur or aluminum sulphate. Information provided by Starbucks indicates that most of the acidity is removed when the coffee grounds are used to make coffee. Some does remain so I apply any time I can. I currently have about 8 bags of coffee grounds in the back of the back of the car; have not had time to spread it out so I have been driving with a coffee smelling car for the last three days. Sniff, sniff... ahhhhh! Hee hee hee!
I would advice others who live in cooler states to not apply coffee grounds (or any types of fertilizers) starting in July-August though. They will trigger additional growth and you need to force the plants into dormant mode by Fall in northern lcoations. If you leave them in growth mode, the new tender growth could be zapped by cold weather. Of course, your cold weather in FL does arrive quite late so feel free to sprinkle some until the late July or August or so. When do you guys in JAX stop fertilizing them, Jeremy?
Oh Luis, what a delightful smell to have in the car!! I love the smell of coffee. Please to know the grounds will be good for my plants --so they are now going to the plants rather than the compost pile.
When should we stop fertliizing in our area. I have been told to give my azaleas on last feeding in August before. That still hold?
Well, my three pooches will agree with you regarding the smell of coffee grounds. They love it too. The Golden Retriever prefers to eat it though and another one, a Border Collie, will go crazy and cover herself in the coffee grounds that I apply on the lawn. Picture a cat smelling catnip and you will get the idea.
On days after the application, she will come to me after being outside for a while and I know she will smell of coffee grounds (or one of the herbs that I also grow). But coffee ground and mint and her favorites. Ha! At least that lets me know exactly where they have been. Smell of coffee? You were there. Smell of lemon? You were here. Hee hee hee.
August still holds as the cut off date because coffee grounds are what I call a weak fertilizer. Similar to other things like liquid seaweed, liquid fish, fish emulsion, etc., its NPK readings (2-0.3-0.2 on average) are lower than those of stronger fertilizers like Holly-tone (an excellent azalea fertilizer: 4-6-4), cottonseed meal (an organic fertilizer recommended by the Azalea Society of America: 8-2-2) or manure (its NPK depends on the animal source; the highest are from rabbits and bats). But be aware that azaleas need very little food. Unlike roses, for example, azaleas and rhodies will live off the decomposing mulch and do very well. That is why it is important to maintain about 3-4" of any type of acidic mulch. My soil here is defficient in a few minerals so I add Holly-tone in Spring and mulch well. Then I sprinkle coffee grounds during the growing season, mostly around gardenias, roses, hydrangeas and camellias.
You are lucky though. Being so far south, that gives you the ability to sprinkle amendments a little longer than us who live at latitudes "above" you. You have no idea so haaaaaard it can be to have to drive all the way to my nearby Starbuck's Store (play violin music) in search of coffee grounds. And gee, perhaps have some coffee too? :o)
But I digress. Yes, late August sounds fine because of your climate. People near the border with Canada would do best stopping in July and those further south can stretch that the farther they live from northern states. I usually stop fertilizing azaleas around the end of this month or early next month.
This message was edited Jul 12, 2008 9:56 PM
Bad news for me today :( Talked to a nurseryman who sells Encores and he didn't recommend them because my backyard faces SW and there isn't any shade until almost evening. Darn. Back to the drawing board.
Well, I did learn a lot from you lovely people (and thanks for the offer, Jeremy). I never knew about the Starbucks thing - maybe now I can justify my recent addiction to Mocha frappachinos? LOL
Always be an optimist, denisemb! Hee hee hee!
I provide shade to some of the plants by locating them on the east side of Crape Myrtles (or some other equivalent tree). Over here, azaleas, camellias and hydrangeas will do fine if they get sun from morning until 11am. I can exceed that time a little until 12pm but the hydrangeas start to complain (some leaves get sunscald) so I have not tried to place any of the other three in sunnier spots.
During the winter months, most of the shrubs have no protection from the sun as Crape Myrtles are deciduous. None of the plants has complained yet. The native azaleas are also deciduous but the Encores are evergreen and pine trees protect them from the worst of the afternoon winter/summer sun. The azaleas on the north side of the house are protected by natural shade off the overhangs; Hino Crimson Azaleas are dwarf, growing about 2'.
You can also grow sun-loving plants if you do not want to alter the landscape in order to provide shade. Roses are an obvious choice (the need more than 4 hours of sun) although I would suggest using antique and heirloom roses since they are less apt to have blackspot issues. If you can, request or select shrubs that grown on 'Fortuniana' rootstock. Then select based on color, mature height, fragrance, etc. You may have to amend the soil considerable if planting on sandy soil and watch your soil's acidity. That last one can be measured via a pH Kit sold on many local nurseries for $5-20 or more. You can go here to do a real soil test in FL: http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/map/
Of all the rose types, 'Bermuda', 'Bourbon', 'China' 'Tea' (not 'hybrid tea') roses typically require minimal amounts of care.
You can also choose daylilies, which are more maintenance free than roses but do not grow as tall as some roses shrubs. In FL, you would like flowers that do not bleach quickly because of the sun. They have the usual pests as roses: aphids, spider mites, thrips. As some roses do, some daylilies also have one blooming period a year so choose accodingly. Rebloomers will not rebloom as quickly as roses do though so be prepared to wait in between blooming periods (read the plant label). Some daylilies are also nocturnal, which means that the blooms open late in the afternoon, stay open all night and close in the morning again. Those that bloom Extra Early can help you get quick flower in March or April.
For more information, see the North Florida Daylily Society at http://nfdaylily.home.comcast.net/~nfdaylily/
I follow the guideline for our area of pruning my azaleas before July 4 (to avoid cutting off next year's blooms). I give them a good whack back to nearly bare wood. That helps get sunlight down into the central stems and trunks for a while to avoid those areas getting weak. The pruned azaleas begin to leaf out again within about 10 days with fresh new growth. I've not had any problem with applying the coffee grounds throughout the year, but our "winter" here consists of only about 4 - 5 nights sporadically spread from late December to early March with temperatures of about 28 F. The only time I've had a problem was when I used a chemical fertilizer for azaleas that I bought on sale and threw on the azaleas in the middle of the growing season. That produced too much green growth and even though the new tender growth didn't freeze back, it ruined the pruned look that I prefer.
Luis - I, too, often have a car scented with the aroma of Starbuck's coffee. LOL Christina finally has to remind me to get the coffee grounds out of the trunk. She drives the car a lot more than I do.
Tia - if you do consider roses, another dependable cultivar is the 'Knock Out' roses. They come in red, pink, and some combinations of colors now. They are virtually disease free in our climate and only stop blooming for a few weeks when the coldest weather comes. Otherwise, they are constantly covered in flowers. They do require consistent maintenance to keep them pruned to the size you want. They tend to get leggy and sparse in growth habit if not pruned on a regular basis.
Thanks Luis and Jax for the advice. Completely justifies my weekly Starbuck's fix!!! I had previously lived in Gainesville for 35 years and am having to readjust a little to this area. Much the same but definitley some differences--I am suceeding with hosta finally!!
Glad to know the grounds work for gardenias too. Have a bunch across the front of the porch that I was considering taking out if they don't do better soon. Have really been neglected and were very tall and scraggly!! Coffee grounds for them also.
I have one knock out rose and love it dearly. It never lets me down producing really soft pink flowers. If I had a large area with sun I would add more to my landscape.
LOL. I was wondering who the heck Tia was until I noticed I signed off my first post with TIA (internet speak for "thanks in advance" - yup, I spend wayyyy too much time online, but where else can I get such good information?)
I hate to continue to hijack this forum as it IS devoted to rhodies. The good news is that I have a coupla other spots in the yard that would work for Encores; the bad news is...I gotta get this full sun SW area taken care of first! LOL
I am just about completely illiterate for web words, so forgive my assumption you were TIA! LOL I'm sure there are a lot of other shortcuts in language that I may be calling other people.
Jeremy, I am so glad you didn't know the meaning either. Now we both do!! LOL
After I researched the Encore website and read the plant tags showing Full Sun planting, I figured these azaleas should be okay with afternoon sun. I planted a dozen this year in late spring, after the spring blooming period. I worked peat moss into the soil and mulched with pine bark. With reasonable watering, all the plants started showing new growth within two weeks, and are just now starting the summer blooming. I'd say give them a chance to do what the Encore folks say they'll do.
Doing well in full sun is probably going to be climate specific--they may do fine in northern areas where the summers are cooler, but as you get farther south they will probably prefer some protection from the afternoon sun. I'm not sure where the Encore people are located or what climates they had in mind when they made those recommendations.
A friend of mine would say that they located in La-La Land. :o)
I cannot imagine how confusing that statement can be. At least they corrected the message when they spoke specifically about Encores in Texas (and Oklahoma): http://www.encoreazalea.com/encore/nav.cfm?cat=19&subcat=132
All my Encores are winding down their fall blooming now, after about two weeks of it. The whites were a bit sparse but the corals and deep pinks totally covered the plants. All the neighbors wanted to know about them, and so maybe next year we'll have lots more around here. Since I planted them this year after the spring bloom, I'm anxious to see what they'll do next spring with the fall bloom being so good.
A few of them are getting a little leggy. Should I wait until next spring to do any pruning of the long branches?
I'm finding the second (or third) flowering on the Encore azaleas to be not as prolific as the first flowering in spring. The Encores in part sun seem to flower better than those in shade. Typically, an azalea bush should not be pruned after about July 4 (as an easy day to remember) because the flower buds for next spring may be set by that date. With the reblooming Encore azaleas, pruning them anytime of the year would probably be O.K. I have some leggy Encores also that I will prune soon.
I Googled and found the "official" advice on pruning from the Encore azalea website:
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.
I think I will wait until after the spring flowering and prune the Encores when I prune my other azaleas.
I concur, Jeremy. It has been my experience that Encores flower best in Spring. Their 2nd and 3rd flowering cycles in June-July and September are always weak when compared to Spring's blooms. I checked one bush recently and noticed just 3 flower buds about to open. I keep them because they are evergreen and like the spring flowers. However, I also do not recommend pruning on/after July or fertilizing now to try and increase bloomage.
Things got better with the September Encore bloomage. I counted about 2-3 dozen flowers now open or about to open.
I just bought some Encores at Home Depot for $13.99. Awesome deal & most of them were blooming so you could see the beautiful colors. They also had qt size perennials at 6 for $6.49. Just in case anyone may be interested. Oh my, but they are beautiful!
I'm one of many that can't say "no" to a bargain plant. LOL Do you recall which perennials were being offered at that amazing price? The same sale may not be happening here since we don't really have an "end of the season" for perennials, but it is worth a look.
Jeremy what an awesome deal! The different perennials were several types (3) of sedum, achillea & just a few others that escape me right now. Hope this helps you decide whether you'll make the trip or not.
Yep, those would be "year-round" perennials here. But I did stumble onto (if one can call it "stumble" when it is the result of predetermined habituating of garden centers LOL). The Lowe's manager today had declared he wanted all the distressed plants gone and that they should be marked down to 25 cents or 50 cents each. I now have a much larger collection of miniature cacti and succulents, with an increase of about 30 named species and cultivars for about $8 total! 3 gal Jatropha interregima and Euphorbia millii for 25 cents each. And I couldn't pass up the Bayer 2-in-1 systemic pesticide/fertilizer for roses (usually about $7) for 50 cents. I bought out the remaining four canisters they had, even though I don't often use chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Gerbera daisies with about 3 - 4 plants in 1 gal pots were also 25 cents, so I bought the last 6 of those to plant alongside the hundred or so I already have in my garden. They make great perennials here if planted in just the right conditions. Two shopping baskets stuffed full of plants for $15.52 total! That's my kind of a shopping spree!
Thanks for the fyi on Loews, we have one about 20 miles away. I've got to go check them out now too! $15.52 for all that is unbelievable. Super deal!
Hi, davis. Yes, it was a bonanza of plant bargains. The deals offered by individual Lowe's stores will vary, depending on the policies and whims of the store manager and district manager. If you really want bargain plants from Lowe's, ask the garden center manager or store manager at the Lowe's near you if the store does "cull packs" for plants. Those are the magic words for getting hundreds of plants for a few pennies each. A change in district manager here ended the cull pack deals, but about a year ago, I was hauling home entire racks stuffed full of distressed plants of all types of annuals, perennials, tropicals, houseplants, and orchids for $10 a rack. Be careful, though. Such a seemingly endless bounty of available plants at such a low cost can lead to the sort of serious gardening addiction that I now have. LOL
Wow Jeremy, I've never heard of that before, but I'm loving the idea of it! Thanks for the tip, I'll definitely try the words "cull packs" at Loews, in the meantime I'll keep planting what I've gotten. Oooh... and feel free to share any other tips you may have. I think I may already have the gardening addiction you speak of. LOL
Well, if you feel ready to take the plunge into trying to tend about 1,000 distressed plants per week (and which of us addicts doesn't? LOL), here is a thread in which I discussed the details of how to make the "cull pack" adventure work for you:
You might also want to read my confessions of the insanity that resulted in this article I wrote about the experience:
But if you suddenly find you are up to your eyeballs in recovering plants and you have no time for anything other than loading them, unloading, sorting, and triaging, don't blame me! LOL
(photo is my yard with no available space for another flat of distressed plants)
Recently purchased 4 Encore azaleas Autumn Chiffon,Carnation,Monarch,and Belle. Chiffon was in bloom when purchased the other 3 have not produced a spring bloom to my knowledge, any ideas when they might I am located in zone 9a. Thanks