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Autumn’s Encore Azaleas

TWENTY-FIVE VARIETIES OF REBLOOMING ENCORE AZALEAS have been available for years and I have been reluctant to try even one until now. Of course, only 19 of them are said to be hardy in Kentucky and only 10 of those have proven to be the hardiest.

CONSISTENTLY BLOOMING THREE TIMES A YEAR in the spring, summer, and fall did not sway me until I read about six varieties that are lace bug resistant. Autumn Amethyst, Autumn Cheer, Autumn Royalty, Autumn Sangria, Autumn Twist, and Autumn Rouge ‘Conlea’ variety have all proven to be winter hardy and lace bug resistant. Lace bugs can be a huge problem on azaleas, particularly those planted in full sun.

ENCORE AZALEAS CAN HAVE SINGLE OR SEMI-DOUBLE FLOWERS and come in a rainbow of colors with blooms averaging 2 inches in diameter. Plant size is dependent on specific variety and growing conditions, but some can get 4 feet tall and 4 or more feet wide. The foliage is evergreen and dark green, and the Encore series is said to do best when growing in full sun to part shade.

AZALEAS TYPICALLY HAVE A SHALLOW ROOT SYSTEM and benefit from a thick organic mulch layer of 3 inches or more for moisture retention and winter protection. Pine bark mulch is an excellent choice. If pruning is necessary it can get tricky with the rebloomers, so the general rule is to prune as soon as the last flower has dropped in the spring. Fall pruning is not recommended.

AN ACIDIC, MOIST, BUT WELL-DRAINED SOIL, rich in organic matter, is best. Pay close attention to watering in the summer during the first year so the plants are well-established going into the first winter. It is best to plant Encore azaleas in the fall for proper establishment and adequate root development before winter.

by Angie McManus

Q Will my Star Jasmine live through the winter? I heard that they could in some parts of Kentucky.

A The scent of a jasmine flower is quite intoxicating. The Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is native to southeastern Asia and considered a tropical for anyone not in zones 8-11. Star Jasmine is commonly grown as an ornamental or houseplant. Outside it is used as a climbing vine, a ground cover, and potted plant.

The USDA plant hardiness zone map shows Kentucky gardens are in zones 6a, 6b, and 7a, depending on which part of the state you live. This map is zoned according to the average annual extreme minimum temperatures.

Star Jasmine can survive outdoors with minimum temperatures of 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit. We get colder than this anywhere you live in Kentucky. To keep this plant happy and alive it must come indoors during the winter months. Unfortunately, it’s not likely to bloom inside. Watch the weather this fall and bring your jasmine inside before the first frost, and take it back outdoors next spring after the frost-free date for your area passes.

Find a sunny window or brightly lit room to over-winter your plant. You will not need to fertilize it since the light levels are so much lower. Cut back on watering to about every 10-12 days, although that depends somewhat on the temperature and humidity of your home. It will not hurt the plant if you need to cut the jasmine back to bring it indoors.

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