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Fall-blooming azaleas

I love fall. Cooler temperatures, beautiful color from our trees and the floral display from our multi-season blooming azaleas. Popular fall-flowering azaleas include the Robin Hill and Encore types.

Robin Hill azaleas resulted from hybridization work done by Robert Gartrell of New Jersey in the 1950s and 1960s. Most years, Robin Hill varieties will bloom for six months. They bloom for two to three months in the spring and another three to four months in late summer through early winter.

Robin Hill varieties include Conversation Piece, Watchet, White Moon, Dorothy Rees, Gwenda, Sir Robert and Sherbrook. Flower colors vary from white to pink, blush, bicolor and more.

You should also try the Encore azalea. Many of the Encore azaleas have improved cold hardiness, sun tolerance and lace bug resistance. Encore azaleas bloom three seasons – spring, summer and fall. New Encore varieties include Autumn Sunburst, Autumn Lily, Autumn Jewel and Autumn Ivory.

Encore azaleas were developed by Louisiana nursery grower and plant breeder Buddy Lee of Independence. Buddy began crossing traditional spring blooming azaleas with the rare Taiwanese summer blooming azalea. After many years, the Encore azaleas were ready for their gardening debut.

Azalea varieties that bloom more than once a year should be pruned in the spring within 2-4 weeks after the bloom cycle is complete. Fertilize in the spring with a slow release fertilizer and apply mulch.

Azaleas need a partial sun/shade planting location. They do best in a well-drained raised landscape bed. A soil pH of 5.5 is ideal. Uniformity in soil moisture is important.

Fall is the perfect time to add these beautiful bloomers to your landscape. Check with your local nurseries — they should have plenty available for your garden.

Rebecca Bates is director of the Lincoln County Cooperative Extension Service. To contact her, call 601-835-3460.