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Choosing the Right Azalea for your Landscape

Encore Azaleas

Evergreen Encore Azaleas are the only patented azaleas that bloom in the spring, summer, and fall. These hardy flowering shrubs are low maintenance and provide multi-season interest with their re-blooming nature. Not only do Hybrid azaleas provide a plentiful amount of flowers throughout the season, but they are also sun tolerant and cold hardy. These are great to use in areas that need additional color, but have too much sunlight for traditional azaleas.

The Birth of Encore Azaleas

The creator of Encore Azaleas is a nationally known plant breeder by the name of Robert E. “Buddy” Lee. Encore Azaleas were created as a hybrid for their ability to withstand direct sunlight, but only requiring little maintenance. Encore Azaleas were born from cuttings of a traditional spring blooming azalea and a cross between a rare Taiwanese summer blooming azalea.

Hybrid AzaleasAzaleas in clusters

Azalea Hybrids can be defined as a cross between two separate species or hybrids that are manipulated through human interaction for specific genetic characteristics. Hybrid azaleas cannot be reproduced through seeds; they must be reproduced from a cutting. This would be considered a clone of the mother plant. Hybrid azaleas can either be deciduous or evergreens. Azaleas have been hybridized for years. Azalea hybrids include a wide range of cultivars that are bred for their plant habits, sizes, bloom times, and colors. Creating hybrids ensures that there are azaleas that meet almost every landscape need or personal preference!

Hybrid AzaleasEvergreen Azaleas

Evergreen Azaleas originated from Asia, Japan, China, Korea, Philippines, and Taiwan. Many evergreen azaleas only appear to be evergreen because they are dimorphic; which means that they grow two sets of leaves each year, once in the spring and once in the summer.

Hardy Gardenia Azalea

Examples of Evergreen Hybrids

 Native Azaleas

Native azaleas are azaleas that can be found naturally in North America.  These azaleas are deciduous, meaning that they will display beautiful fall color and will eventually shed their leaves for the winter. There are sixteen azalea species that are native to the east coast and only two species of azalea that is native to the west coast.  These azaleas can be classified into three broad groups according to flower color.  Once the flower color is determined; bloom time, special characteristics, and other details can be used to identify specific species.

Native azaleas table

Compare and Contrast: Deciduous and Evergreen Azaleas

Compare and Contrast Azaleas


Azalea Flower Types

There are many different types of azalea flowers.  They range from size, composition, and color! Most azalea flowers are 2-3 inches, but can vary greatly depending on the variety.

Types of Azalea Flowers:

  • Single – 1 green calyx, 5 petals, 5 or more stamens, 1 pistol
  • Hose-in-hose – 10 to 12 petals
  • Double – Petal number varies
  • Double hose-in-hose – 30 or more petals

Azalea Flower Parts

Petal Shape and Color

The petal shape and color of an azalea flower can vary greatly as well depending on the variety.

  • Shape ranges from linear, pointy, to rounded.
  • Petal margins can be ruffled, flat, wavy, or frilled.
  • The overall flower shape can be funneled, bell-shaped, tubular, flat faced, re-curved, or open.
  • Flower size can vary from ¼ “ to 5”.
  • Colors can be white, pink, purple, blue, red, yellow, orange, and even multi-colored.

Azalea Foliage

Evergreen Azalea Leaves Evergreen Azalea Leaves

The leaves of an azalea plant can vary depending on the variety as well. Deciduous azaleas typically have larger leaves that change colors in the fall and drop off in the winter. Evergreen azaleas typically have smaller leaves that are prominent all year around. Almost all azaleas have dark green colored foliage, whereas a few can have a yellow off-white mottling.

Decidous Azalea Leaves Deciduous Azalea Leaves

Azalea Plant Habits and Bloom Time

The growing habit of an azalea can range from stiff and upright to broad and low mounding. Most deciduous varieties have a stiff and upright appearance, while evergreen varieties have broad and low mounding growing habits. The size range of these bushes can have a range from a little under a foot up to 15 feet tall!  Most varieties are dense and compact, while some are open and others almost like a tree form.

Most azaleas bloom in early April to May. These flowers typically last about two weeks. Some varieties will bloom a month earlier.  Some hybrids such as the Encore azaleas are bred to bloom In the fall as well as the spring.

Azalea Landscape Ideas


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