How To Plant An Encore Azalea

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This article provides tips and instructions for planting Encore Azales in the ground or in containers
by Brett · All Zones · Planting · 0 Comments · August 18, 2015 · 11,613 views

Encore Azaleas are easy to grow when planted right and in the right spot. Here's some culture and planting tips that when followed should give you great success growing Encore Azaleas in your landscape and garden beds and in containers.

Soil Type

Encore Azaleas grow in a range of soils provided the soil is well-drained and somewhat rich in organic matter. When planting in heavy clay soil it's a good idea to add soil amendment to loosen the clay and improve drainage. More on that in the Planting Instructions further down on this page.

Soil Drainage

Encore Azaleas grow best in a soil that is well-drained but moist. As with many other plants, they do not like a constantly soggy or wet soil, which can lead to root rot and other plant diseases.

Before You Plant: If you are uncertain about soil drainage in the area you intend to plant your Encore Azaleas, it's well worth taking the time to test the drainage before planting. To test soil drainage, dig a hole 12" wide by 12" in the planting area. Fill the hole with water and let it drain. Then, after it drains, fill it with water again, but this time clock how long it takes to drain. In well-drained soil the water level will go down at a rate of about 1 inch an hour. A faster rate, such as in loose, sandy soil, may signal potentially dry site conditions. A slower rate indicates poor draining soil and could be a caution you might need to improve drainage, plant in a raised mound or bed, or look for plants that are more tolerant of wet or boggy conditions.

Soil pH

As with all other azaleas, Encores like growing 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.

SEE: What Is Soil pH and How To Test It? >

Sun Needs

Encore Azaleas will grow in full sun or part shade. At least 4 hours of direct sun per day or all day filtered sun is recommended for best flowering throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons. In the Deep South, and other regions of the country that experience very hot summers with intense sunshine, Encore Azaleas might appreciate a break from direct sun during the hottest part of summer afternoons.


How far apart you space your Encore Azaleas will depend on how you intend to use them.

Solid Hedges - If you are creating a solid hedge you can space Encore Azaleas 6 inches to 1 foot closer than the mature width. For example, if you are planting an Encore Azalea that grows 4 feet wide you could space them 3 to 3.5 feet apart "on center,' which means from the center of one plant in the row to the center of the next plant. If you space much closer your azaleas roots may start to compete for soil space.

Groupings - If you intend to plant your Encore Azaleas in a grouping and want there to be space between each plant, space plants at least 1 foot further apart than their specified mature width. For example, if you are planting an Encore Azalea that grows 3 feet wide you could space them 4 feet or more apart "on center,' which means from the center of one plant to the center of the next plant.

How To Plant Encore Azaleas

Step 1
If your soil drains well, start by digging your planting hole at least two to three times as wide and no deeper than the root ball of the plant. The wider the hole the better. Place native soil removed from planting hole around the perimeter of the hole, in a wheel barrow, or on a tarp.

Step 2
Depending on the type, fertility and porosity of the soil in the planting area you might need to mix in a soil amendment to the native soil removed from the planting hole. When planting in dense clay or poor soil it is beneficial to thoroughly mix in some good organic matter, such as composted cow manure, mushroom compost, sand, and/or a good planting mix at a 50/50 ratio with the soil. When planting in very sandy, quick-draining soil you might want to consider mixing in some top soil, peat moss and/or compost to help retain moisture. When planting in fertile, loamy, well-drained soil there is no need for adding a soil amendment.

Step 3
To remove your Encore Azalea from the container it was growing in, firmly grasp the plant by its base and gently lift and remove the root ball from the container. If the root ball is stuck in the pot either cut the container away or place the plant on it's side and gently pound on the side of the container to loosen the root ball. After having removed the plant from the container, gently loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the root ball. Azaleas are notorious for becoming root bound in containers. If your plant is root bound, use a stream from the garden hose to remove some of the soil from the side and bottom surfaces of the root ball. This should help to expose and loosen some feeder roots if necessary.

Step 4
If you are planting in well-drained soil set your Encore Azalea in the planting hole so that the top edge of the rootball is at or preferably slightly above ground level (1-inch or so), to allow for settling. If your soil is moderately drained, which means it drains slowly after a heavy rainfall, the top of the root ball should be 2 to 3 inches above ground level. If necessary, add some backfill soil mixture to the bottom of the hole to achieve proper planting height.

Step 5
After setting your Encore Azalea in the planting hole, use one hand to hold the plant straight and your other hand to begin back-filling your soil mixture around the root ball, tamping as you go to remove air pockets. When you have filled the hole to the halfway point you can soak the soil. Then continue back-filling to the top edge of the root ball. If you are planting higher than ground level taper your soil mixture gradually from the top edge of the root ball to the ground level, as shown in the planting diagram above. To avoid suffocating your plant, do not put any soil on top of the root ball.

Step 6 (Optional)
When planting your Encore Azaleas in an area that you won't be able to water easily, you can use remaining soil mixture to build a water retaining berm (catch basin) around the outside perimeter of the planting hole. This basin will help to collect water from rainfall and irrigation often reducing the need for hand-watering. The berm can be removed after a couple growing seasons.

Step 7
Apply a 1 to 2" layer of aged, shredded or chipped wood mulch or pine straw around the planting area to concerve moisture and to suppress weed growth. Do not use freshly chipped or shredded wood for mulch until it has cured in a pile for at least 6 months, a year is better. Avoid placing or piling mulch directly against the base of the shrub as this could cause the bark to rot.

You can buy Encore Azaleas online at


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