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  • Courtesy of Encore Azaleas

    New varieties of Encore azaleas include "Autumn Twist,"

  • Courtesy of Encore Azaleas

    "Autumn Rouge"

  • Courtesy of Encore Azaleas

    "Autumn Embers"

Garden Detective: Azaleas

Published: Saturday, Apr. 27, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 9CALIFORNIA LIFE

Over the years, I have planted many azaleas in my yard. I have some areas that take direct sunlight, but I have found that the Encore variety does very well in the sun and seems to grow very well, especially during the hot summer months.

It also blooms twice a year and has beautiful flowers in both spring and late fall. The problem? I cannot find this plant being sold anywhere. It used to be sold at all the local nurseries including Home Depot and Lowe's. However, I have not been able to find any new plants for some time.

Why are Encore azaleas no longer locally available? Or is there a grower I could contact directly?

I would appreciate any information you could provide to me, as I believe Encore azaleas are far superior to other varieties sold locally, especially those that bloom only in the spring and cannot take direct summer sun and heat.

– Jim Noble, Folsom

Robert E. "Buddy" Lee of Independence, La., developed the Encore azalea series in the early 1980s, according to UC master gardener Liz Haines. His intent was to hybridize azaleas that would bloom in both spring and fall. He bred for blossom color, foliage and flowering period.

Lee developed Encore by crossing spring-blooming azaleas with late-blooming Taiwanese azaleas (Rhododendron oldhamii). The Encore hybrids flower in spring, then they stop growing and set new buds, then begin to bloom again in late summer and keep blooming until the weather turns cold.

Lee's original production was six cultivars. They varied in shades of pink, orange and lavender. Some were compact in growth; others were taller and served nicely as background plants.

Now, the Encore series has 29 cultivars, all with "Autumn" in their commercial names, such as "Autumn Twist" and "Autumn Debutante."

More Encores are being developed. You should find them in local nurseries, including Lowe's.

According to www.EncoreAzalea.com (the plant hybridizer's official website), you should be able to find Encores at most Lowe's locations as well as all three locations of Green Acres (Folsom, Roseville and Sacramento), Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery and Silverado Nursery in Sacramento, High Ranch Nursery in Loomis, Cameron Park Nursery in Cameron Park and Eisley's Nursery in Auburn.

If you don't find the Encore you want, ask the nursery to order it for you.

See all 29 varieties online at www.EncoreAzalea.com.


GARDEN QUESTIONS?

Questions are answered by master gardeners at the UC Cooperative Extension services in Sacramento and Placer counties.

Send questions to Garden Detective, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. Send email to h&g@sacbee.com. Please put "Garden Detective" in the subject field and include your postal address. To contact your UC Extension directly, call:

• Sacramento: (916) 875-6913; 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. weekdays

• Amador: (209) 223-6838; 10 a.m.-noon Monday through Thursday; email ceamador.ucdavis.edu

• Butte: (530) 538-7201; 8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. weekdays

• El Dorado: (530) 621-5512; 9 a.m.-noon weekdays

• Placer: (530) 889-7388; 9 a.m.-noon on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays or leave a message and calls will be returned

• Nevada: (530) 273-0919; 9 a.m.-noon Tuesdays through Thursday or leave a message

• Shasta, Tehama, Trinity: (530) 225-4605

• Solano: (707) 784-1322; leave a message and calls will be returned

• Sutter, Yuba: (530) 822-7515; 9 a.m.-noon Mondays and Tuesdays and 1-4 p.m. Thursdays

• Yolo: (530) 666-8737; 9-11 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, or leave a message and calls will be returned

To read past Garden Detectives, go to http://www.sacbee.com/gardendetective

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