Back in 2009 I brought home an Encore Azalea from one of my Garden Writers conferences. At the time, my colleagues asked me why I’d done it but I said that I had no problem with plants in pots–and besides, azaleas made nice bonsai specimens.
Well, go figure–as it turns out, these things might actually be hardy to my zone after all! I started reading that the particular one that I had brought home, Autumn Lilac™ (as with all these trademarked plants the “real” name is Azalea x ‘Robles’PPIP), might be hardy as early as last season but I didn’t chance it. Then this year I saw that fully half the line is hardy to Zone 6 and the other half is hardy to Zone 6B. Here’s the Fine Gardening post that mentions this.
What’s the deal with Encore Azaleas anyway? Supposedly they rebloom in the fall. Mine has never done so but you know what? I don’t care. Azaleas blooming in the fall are a little unnatural to me so I don’t need that feature.
By the way, here’s what mine looks like this time of year–lovely foliage, no rebloom. And great size considering it just went into the fround from a 5″ pot this spring!
And by the way, Proven Winners is coming out with a reblooming azalea line beginning in 2012 in limited introduction. So if the idea appeals to you, they should be available soon.