Monday, November 16th, 2009...12:00 am

Cold Protection for Encore Azaleas

Encore by Carol

Encore by Carol

TheGardenLady received this question about planting Autumn Coral Encore Azaleas:

I’m planting Autumn Coral Encore Azalea in Zone 5, St. Louis and will follow suggested mulching program this fall. Has anyone had success with this or other Encore varieties in Zone 5? It’s hard to believe that this evergreen azalea wants 4-6 hrs of direct sunlight. St. Louis summers are brutally hot and very sunny overall. Standard evergreen azaleas usually perform best here in eastern or northern exposure or under large shade trees. Any thoughts on amount of sunlight?

Autumn Coral Encore Azalea

Autumn Coral Encore Azalea

The response to this question is comes directly from Encore Azalea.

For More Cold Protection
Mulch well (about 4 inches deep) in the fall. Reduce water for a month or so before the first frost. Then, after a couple of hard freezes, water well to provide moisture. This will help the plants to go dormant, or “harden off”.

As you would with any outdoor ornamental plants, Encore Azaleas may need some extra protection during sudden freezes and extremely cold weather. Sudden, drastic drops in temperature are more damaging than a gradual decline, especially to newly planted shrubs.

Burlap, old blankets, or sheets (any cloth material) can be used to cover upper plants. It is recommended that you drive stakes in the ground around your Encore and drape the cloth cover over stakes. Foliage in contact with the cover can be injured, so try to minimize cover contact with plant.

You can also try Encore Azaleas in containers, so that you can bring them inside in extremely cold weather.

I suggest one of the hardier varieties for zone 5. Try Autumn Amethyst , Autumn Cheer , Autumn Royalty , and Autumn Ruby and Autumn Twist . You also want to plant in spring or early summer.

As Encores mature and get more established in their environment, they will be better able to withstand cold temperatures. Young plants are more susceptible to sudden, drastic drops in temperatures, and sustained cold weather (25 degrees or below).

Encore Azaleas will thrive in your zone 5, although they will need a bit more protection. Encore Azaleas also need to receive at least receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day in zone 5. Since all 24 varieties of Encore Azaleas have been bred to bloom in three seasons, they need extra sun to do so.

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