Darrell Blackwelder: Bloomin’ azaleas
Are azaleas blooming now? Yes, there are certain cultivars of azaleas, Encore azaleas, that bloom in the spring and the fall.
These multiple bloomers are becoming a new standard for flowering shrubs in our landscapes. Some nurseries boast 9 months of bloom; however in our area most bloom two to three times a year, resting between blooms.
Another advantage is that these showy plants can tolerate full sun and seem to be more heat tolerant than traditional spring blooming azaleas. They will, however, need extra care becoming established. Once established the plants will bloom consistently mid April, Labor Day and then depending on weather, again near Thanksgiving.
Moisture is critical for survival during the first three years after planting for these plants. Both are shallow rooted and should not be allowed to dry out. Frequent watering may be required during hot, summer months or during fall droughts. Trickle or drip irrigation is an ideal method of supplying water these plants’ shallow root system. But be aware — over-irrigating is as often more serious as under-watering. Waterlogged soils often promote root diseases, which gradually killing the plant.
Mulch to conserve water during the hot, dry summer months. Three to four inches of pine needles or course pine bark is recommended as mulching material.
Complete fertilizers or azalea fertilizers should be applied after the spring bloom. Never lime azaleas and avoid wood ashes since both lime and wood ashes raise the soil pH.
Go to https://www.encoreazalea.com/ for more detailed information on Encore azaleas.