Autumn Bonfire is the latest Encore Azalea

Autumn Bonfire is the latest Encore Azalea

The 31st azalea to join the reblooming collection was bred for a more vibrant red bloom color and bright foliage.

April 4, 2018
Edited by Matt McClellan
New Varieties

LOXLEY, Ala. – Encore Azalea introduces a new addition to their popular line of reblooming azaleas with Autumn Bonfire.  

Glowing with brilliant red flowers, Autumn Bonfire Encore Azalea provides enduring color all season. The ruffled petals providing striking contrast against bright evergreen foliage that keeps plants shining through the winter months. 

“This seedling stood out among the others in my trials,” said Robert "Buddy" Lee, the plant breeder who developed Encore Azaleas, including Autumn Bonfire. “The vibrant flower color and bright foliage (of Autumn Bonfire) stand out significantly from a distance.”

Editor's note: For more of Buddy's favorite selections and details about his breeding work, watch for the article in our April issue.
Autumn Bonfire comes from a breeding program to select more red color in the blooms, but foliage is also very important, Lee said.

“When I breed azaleas I look for compactness and good form," he said. "Autumn Bonfire is very compact but it also grows well and looks healthy.”

Perfect for small gardens and containers, Autumn Bonfire is a dwarf variety of azalea growing in a tidy three-foot mound. Encore Azaleas require little maintenance and are among the most cold-tolerant of azaleas. 

In his breeding programs, Lee looks for traits that make azaleas easy to grow and maintain.

“Our plants are evaluated for several years,” said Lee. “I look for plants that are easy to establish in the landscape and tolerate a range of environmental stresses.” 

Sun tolerance is one of the traits that sets Encore apart from other azaleas. Another is repeat blooming. In 1996, Encore Azalea introduced re-blooming azaleas that flower in spring, summer, and fall. Like other members of the collection, Autumn Bonfire is a repeat bloomer.

“Autumn Bonfire is more free-blooming,” Lee said. “In the right location it will readily re-bloom.” 

The right location includes four to six hours of direct morning sunlight or bright shade. While Encore Azaleas are unique in their tolerance of sunny conditions, plants do benefit from protection against hot afternoon sun.  

With the introduction of Autumn Bonfire, the Encore Azaleas family has grown to include 31 varieties flowering in shades of pink, purple, red, and white. This diversity in color is one of the reasons Lee enjoys working with azaleas. “There is a great variety of color combinations that can be bred into the blooms.” 

Look for Autumn Bonfire and other members of the Encore family at your local garden center.