Posted by Brent Wilson on 6/30/2016 to Fertilizing & Watering Tips
Encore Azaleas are among the easiest to grow of all azaleas. They aren't super-heavy feeders however will benefit from fertilization. As with all other azaleas, prefer an acid soil.
Here's some tips for feeding Encore Azaleas....
Fertilize Encore Azaleas right after the first bloom cycle in spring with an azalea, camellia and rhododendron food or a slow-release shrub & tree food, preferably one that contains sulfur and/or iron. Alternatively, you can feed with a natural or organic plant food, preferably one that contains sulfur and/or iron. Follow application instructions on the product label.
If leaf color fades or leaves turn yellow on your Encore Azalea during the active-growth season, this could be an indicator of alkaline soil conditions. That said, it can also be an indicator of over-saturated soil. Check soil moisture to be sure. If soil is soggy or wet around the roots reduce irrigation, improve drainage, or replant in a raised bed or mound to ensure proper drainage. If soil moisture isn't a problem you can spray plants with a solution of liquid chelated iron for deep greening of foliage.
Important Note: To avoid damage to new growth stimulated by fertilization, cease fertilization of Encore Azaleas two months prior to the first frost date in your area.
As with all other azaleas, the Encores grow best in an acid soil ranging from 5.0 to 6.5 on the pH scale. Most average garden soils range between 6.0 to 7.0 on the pH scale.
Testing Soil pH
Soil pH is a measurement of the alkalinity or acidity of soil and is measured on a scale of 1-14, with 7 as the neutral mark. Any measurement below 7 indicates acid soil conditions, and anything above 7 indicates alkaline. If you'll be planting Encore Azaleas nearby other acid-loving plants that are healthy it shouldn't be necessary to do a soil pH test.
On the other hand, if you're unsure about the pH of your soil, and whether or not it's suitable for growing Encore Azaleas, it's a good idea to test the soil pH in the planting area. You can quickly test soil pH with an inexpensive soil pH tester kit or probe. To raise the pH (make more alkaline) you can add pelletized limestone to the soil. To lower the pH (make more acid) you can apply Soil Sulfur, Aluminum Sulfate, or Chelated Iron. Adding organic compost to the soil or using compost as mulch can also help to increase acidity and maintain acid soil conditions.
Learn More: What is Soil pH and How To Adjust It >
Watering Encore Azaleas
Because they don't like constantly soggy or wet soil, avoid overwatering Encore Azaleas or planting them in a poorly drained soil that stays constantly soggy or wet. Well-drained soil is a essential.
At Planting Time
Immediately after planting deep soak the soil in the planting area, including the rootball, to a depth equal to the height of the root ball. For an extra boost, to stimulate early root formation and stronger root development you can also water you newly planted Encore Azaleas with a solution of Root Stimulator, which reduces transplant shock and promotes greener, more vigorous plants.
Note: When planted during the winter dormant season your Encore Azaleas will require less water. So, be extra careful not to overwater during winter!
During the First Active Growth Season
In average garden soil you should not have to water your newly planted Encore Azaleas every day. More often than not, this causes soggy soil conditions that can lead to root rot and other harmful plant diseases. In the absence of sufficient rainfall, water only as needed to keep the rootball and surrounding soil damp to moist. Keep in mind that deep soaking less frequently is much better than splashing just a little water on the plants every day.
When well established, Encore Azaleas are quite drought tolerant. That being said, if you see new leaves wilting or tips of stems bending over during a drought this could be a sign that your azaleas could use a good deep soaking.
Watering Encore Azaleas In Containers
Encore Azaleas growing in containers will require closer attention to soil moisture. Check soil moisture regularly and provide water if the top inch or two of the soil is somewhat dry to dry. During cooler months, Encore Azaleas growing in containers will not require as much water.
Important Tip: When watering with an automated irrigation system it's best to set your timer to water during the early morning hours and not in the late evening or at night, which can lead to the onset of fungus and other foliar diseases. During the first few weeks after planting, check soil moisture often and adjust irrigation time if necessary to keep the soil moist, not wet.
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