Monrovia vs Encore

stevied(8b/9a FL)September 9, 2005

We would like to plant a 100' row of azaleas at our home in north Florida (zone 8b/9). The back 50 feet of the row is in full sun. The front 50' starts out in heavy shade, getting approx 1-2 hours of early morning sun. The length of sun exposure gradually increases along the length of the row until, at about the 50 ft. mark, the remainder of the row is exposed to full sun.

We would like an evergreen azalea that is approx. 3 to 4 feet in height with a similar spread. We recognize that we may have to buy several different varieties of azaleas to handle the varying light conditions.

We have been looking at the Encore Azalea website, which describes a number of azaleas which meet our requirements. They describe all of their "Autumn" series azaleas as appropriate for "full sun to light shade". Will these azaleas handle heavy shade as well?

The Monrovia website also has a number of azaleas which meet our requirements. Their site describes these azaleas as appropriate for "partial shade". In addition, under their Attributes heading, Monrovia describes these azaleas as "shade lovers".

Would the Monrovia shade lovers do better in heavy shade than the full sun to light shade Encore azaleas, or is this more marketing hype, whrere it doesn't really make much difference which we use in heavy shade?

Comments appreciated.

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All azaleas, in general, are part-shade loving plants with different TOLERANCE to sun. I'd say most, if not all of them will do great with 3-4 hours of DIRECT sun and could tolerate even a full sun if adequate moisture provided.
However there is a big difference in a zonal sun. I hope you understand that full sun in CT (z6) and full sun in FL (z9) are quite different. I could pretty much safely plant azaleas in full sun here, but would be very cautious to do so in FL. Contrary, 1-2 hours of the morning sun could be not enough for azaleas to perform the best in my zone, but will be sufficient in yours.
Monrovia site has it right for the most part of the country and for the most types of azaleas while Encore site probably has it right for z7-8 for their particular cultivars.
The best thing you could do is to visit most reputable garden center in your area and get a consultation on what should and shouldn't work in your particular case.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 11:17AM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Shade and water loving plants like Azaleas, Camellias and Hydrangeas can both be grown in Florida IF their requirements are met. But that is a big if, man.

I grow all here in Texas but let me tell you!!! I have them in shade or part-shade and it requires a lot of attention. You have to keep tweaking the watering system as the season and temps change. And you have to keep an eye on the plants so you know it is time to tweak. Go on vacation for two weeks and they could be dry as a bone when you get back. I lost one azalea and one camellia this year that way.

Camellias and Hydrangeas can develop a deep root system to extract water from the soil. On the other hand, Azalea roots are tiny and located on the top few inches. Hurricane Katrina would blow my azaleas off into Oregon if it had come here.

Because the top soil always dries out faster, azaleas roots can dry out quicker than the other two types of plants. Mulch is obviously required, it helps greatly but ... think about what the sun, shining all day long, will do to the soil under the azaleas or around them... expose the top few inches to drying conditions. And that will be compounded by yet another problem! The sandy soil in Florida. Sandy soil does not hold water well and requires watering more often than when you have clay soil. So think about ammending (or replacing) the soil in your 100' row before starting to plant.

The leaves of deciduous azaleas can withstand the sun better than evergreen azaleas. But leaves that get too much sun can get sunburn or being bleached. I have not seen any article or books that can help selecting azaleas whose leaves will not scorch from too much sun. I hope others can offer some suggestions.

So, if you MUST HAVE azaleas, ask your local nurseries and experiment in that full sun area FIRST next year. Look around town; do you see azaleas planted anywhere? Ask the owner about their upkeep.

Be prepared to plant several different types in the Full Sun Section first and observe their behaviour during the late June to early September period. Take notes for reference in future years.

If nothing works in the Full Sun Section then consider another type of plant. Or consider azaleas only in the shaded area. If something works, then use that variety in the rest of the 100' row. Summer weather changes from year to year so keep a good eye on the plants for several seasons.

Good luck, StevieD!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 5:50PM
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stevied(8b/9a FL)

Thanks for your responses! We decided to use loropetalums instead of azaleas in the full sun section of the row. In the areas which receive shade, we will plant Encore Autumn Angel azaleas. We wanted to go with Encore Autumn Chiffons, but couldn't find any. The local nurseries said they couldn't get it until next spring. However, we were able to find some Encore Autumn Angels. Since we are trying to finish up before winter, we are going to use them instead (this is is our 3rd bed we have planted this year).

One of the shady parts our row receives only about 1 to 2 hours of sun a day (Early morning sun). We are going to plant azaleas in this area. We aren't certain that there is adequate light for azaleas in this spot. So, we'll just have to see what happens. The rest of the shady area should be ok for azaleas.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 10:05AM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

The latest varieties from Encore are usually hard to get. Autumn Angel and Autumn Sundance should thus be difficult to buy for the next few years.... specially Angel since it is their first white azalea. But, a good supply of plants is usually not available anywhere at this time of the year. Whatever nurseries have now is leftover from their spring shipments. Care-wise, I hope the link below helps you out.

Loropetalums are a good choice since they grow well in acidic soil and adapt very well to non-ideal conditions like my clay soil. I have several specimens with purplu-ish leaves and pink flowers that bloom -for sure in the spring- sporadically thru the year. It is interesting to note that I have had one plant blooming while another one, just 5-6' away, is not. Go figure. Some types do get big (15' high and 10' of spread) so choose the variety carefully or plant it in the right location.


Here is a link that might be useful: Care of Encore Azaleas

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 8:17PM
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stevied(8b/9a FL)

Thanks for the info, Luis.

We were able to find a local nursery which still has 7 Encor Autumn Angel azaleas. They are holding them for us. Seven will be enough to get the job done.

We are aware of the growth habits of the various varieties of loropetalums. We went with the Rubys, since they do not grow as tall as the burgundys (although I prefer the leaf color of the burgundys).

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 9:25AM
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Dieter2NC(z7b NC)

I have 9 different varieties of Encores and each has it's onw wants and needs to perform their best. I have had to move them several times to find the best conditions for each. The one problem with all azaleas located in "full" sun is that they have more infestations of lace bugs

    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 7:14PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Dieter2NC wrote:
"The one problem with all azaleas located in "full" sun is that they have more infestations of lace bugs"

Lace bugs hit some varieties much worse than others. Usually moving into more shaded spots solves the problem.

The problem with azaleas planted in "full" shade is they don't bloom or have sparse blooms. Azaleas love shade, but as most plants when they are most content, they don't reproduce. The more sun, the more blooms. Also, the more faded blooms.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sun & Shade

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 11:28AM
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Here they sell Azaleas for about $30 instead of $40 or $50 they are usually priced online.

I just ordered these plants on that website:
Encore� Azalea Autumn Amethyst� EA01 1 $31.95
Encore� Azalea Autumn Bravo� EA04 1 $31.95
Encore� Azalea Autumn Twist� EA25 1 $31.95

I hope this helps. I find it very hard to find azaleas in the Fall at the Home Depot here in Dallas for some reason. They should be selling lots of these plants in this period! Anyway, does anybody know if these plants will survive here if I keep them in their pots until next Spring, all through winter? I am preparing a Japanese garden and it is taking a long time to dig up all the dirt for the koi pond, a small river, and an in-ground spa... uff!

Here is a link that might be useful: Encore Azaleas

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 11:16PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

If you keep the soil moist and bring them indoors when winter temps get very cold, they should survive. If you have not noticed, the stock of unsold azaleas tends to survive into Spring at the local nurseries.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 4:44AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

If you keep trying to find quality and selection at Home Depot etc. you are liable to be stymied.

There is no point in amending a sandy soil in a hot climate for plantings of long-lived plants like shrubs as the amendments will decompose and disappear as soon as one year later. Use repeated applications of organic mulch instead.

You also do not want to amend small areas like individual planting holes or strip beds as it is undesirable to have small areas of one soil texture surrounded by larger areas of a different soil texture. This situation has adverse effects on how water moves into and out of the area around the roots of plants so placed.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2011 at 12:28PM
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