Azaleas adorn landscapes across the state of Maryland, from the coastal areas near the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the mountainous areas of Appalachia in the west. Azaleas are spring blooming plants, but the 'Encore' variety blooms a second round of flowers beginning in late summer and into fall. While many bushes rebloom without extra effort, you are not alone if yours does not. Proper care of an Encore azalea will get it to thrive and bloom again.
Add 2 to 3 inches of mulch under the entire canopy of the azalea bush. Keep about 1 to 2 inches from the stem to help prevent disease, rot and mold. On the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where sandy soil is the norm and water drains quickly, this is required to keep the soil moist enough for azaleas to rebloom.
Prune azaleas right after flowering when the flowers begin to seed. In Maryland, this usually occurs in late spring. Prune lightly to shape the plant. Cut irregular, tall and undesired branches back just above a parent branch. Pruning is not necessary to your azalea's health, but it may encourage more blooms.
Fertilize in the early spring when the plant begins to grow again with a slow-release fertilizer labeled for azaleas. Growth typically begins in late March or early April. Apply recommended rates as stated on the label. Fertilize once more in late July or early August but never later, as cold weather can damage new green growth that will result from fertilizing.
Test the acidity of the soil with a home pH testing kit, which is available at most garden centers. Follow the instructions on the label for accurate results. Adjust the pH level to maintain an acidity of 5.5 to 6.0. Add lime to lower the acidity and sulfur to raise it. How much of either is needed will vary depending on your initial pH results.
Transplant the azalea in the spring or fall, if necessary. Move it to the east or north side of your home to provide it with adequate shade and in an area that is protected from high winds. The soil should be well draining, so mix in about 4 to 6 inches of compost to clay or sandy soils to the top 12 to 18 inches of the planting site. Test the pH as described in the previous steps, adjust it if necessary and continue to keep your plant well watered. Provide an infrequent deep soaking rather than a routine sprinkling of the surface.