If the tag on your new Azalea says that it is a Rhododendron, it isn’t an error. Rhododendrons have eight distinct divisions, two of which are actually what we call Azaleas. You have evergreen azaleas (Rhododendron Tsutsusi), of which there are about 100 different species that originated in the Orient. Then there are the deciduous azaleas (Rhododendron Pentanthera), which represents only about 18 different species that are native to North America. The family tree gets a bit more mixed than that but those are not important at this moment.
DNA studies show long line of evolution at play.
Following the recent discovery of a new native Azalea in Alabama, genetic studies of that shrub’s DNA have led horticulture scientists to test surprising results. The natural splicing of the newly discovered plant’s genes show them that it very well may have evolved to this new species from a well known existing native azalea. The actions of the birds and bees have been causing the evolution of many plants into completely new forms as far back as we have records.
Louisiana man reinvents the Azalea wheel.
Plant evolution in nature takes eons. Plant enthusiasts experimenting with crossbreeding can finish the process in record time. The most superior Azalea ever to appear is the Encore Azalea collection. If it weren’t for Robert Lee whose love of Azaleas and curiosity over breeding them we would still have only azaleas that bloom in the spring. In a mere 15 years of breeding and test trials, Mr. Lee has brought us a blooming wonder that just cannot stop performing until frost sets in.
Encore Azaleas outshine traditional azalea traits.
The first Encore Azalea selections were available for purchase in 1997. By 2002, the work of Mr. Lee and Plant Development Services, Inc. had a total of 13 different shrubs to choose from. Today the Encore Azalea Autumn series offers an astounding 23 different superior shrubs. All of them are evergreen azaleas that begin blooming in spring and continue to repeat the beauty until frost takes out the flowers. Encore Azaleas cover shrub sizes from demure to robust in a dazzling variety of colors.