Bloom-a-thon Azaleas: Re-Blooming azaleas for the Midwest
With the introduction of Encore Azaleas several years ago, Midwesterners finally had an opportunity to garden with azaleas that would bloom more than once a year. Now, there is a new kid on the block; Proven Winner’s Bloom-a-thon azaleas. This series of azaleas, which has been under testing for several years and was available for sale to the general public starting in 2012, brings another advantageous alternative to the azalea enthusiast. The series only has 4 different colors, red white lavender and pink, but they are rich, deep and showy.
Bloom-A-Thon Vs. Encore Azaleas
Like Encore, the Bloom-a-thons will bloom for 4-6 weeks in the spring and then again sporadically during the summer and fall yielding blooms up until frost. Bloom-a-thons are generally considered hardier than the Encores having a zone rating of 6-9 for all 4 colors. The Encores, although possessing many different cultivars, are considered hardy only in zones 10-7, with just a few of their hardiest cultivars be rated for zone 6. My personal observation is that the Bloom-a-thons also seem to be slower growing and possibly could be smaller at mature size than the Encores though their size is officially listed at 48"+which is the same size for most of the Encores.
Bloom-a-thon Azalea Care Tips
Now the most significant difference between these two families of re-blooming azaleas is their required exposure. Encores have always been touted as an azalea for sunny areas where Bloom-a-thons are in need of shade. This makes them more like the standard evergreen azaleas of the past. Culturally Bloom-a-thons are to be grown like any other azalea so they require a slightly acidic soil and do best with good drainage. Pruning and fertilizing should be done after the initial spring blooming period. The foliage having good disease resistance negates the need for fungicide sprays during the growing season and they are considered to be more heat tolerant as well.
With their hardiness rating, good flower color, exposure requirements, and re-blooming characteristics, Bloom-a-thons are a fine addition to the Proven Winner brand and are sure to find their place among the best azalea varieties for theMidwest.