Encore Azaleas are azalea/rhododendron hybrids, created by plant breeder Robert E. “Buddy" Lee. These plants will bloom in spring, then again in summer and, finally, in the fall before dying back for the winter. Encore Azaleas require more sun than standard azaleas but otherwise have the same care requirements. Zone 9, with the coldest temperatures ranging between 30 to 20 degrees F, includes most of central and northern Florida, southern Texas, a large part of California, parts of western Arizona, southern New Mexico and the very southern tip of Nevada.
This variety of Encore Azalea has dark lavender flowers, measuring 2 inches across, and foliage that turns purple in the winter. One of the more cold hardy varieties in this plant line, it needs a slightly acidic soil and some afternoon shade in zone 9.
Autumn Chiffon has a very pretty light pink bloom, almost 3 inches in width, that has darker pink freckles toward the middle that make this variety a candidate for the focal point of your garden. The plant will grow to very compact and become almost hidden by the flowers in the summer. Autumn Chiffon needs a slightly acidic soil and protection from the afternoon sun in zone 9.
If you are looking for white flowers for your zone 9 garden, you may want to consider the Autumn Angel variety of Encore Azalea. The flowers are pure white and 3 inches in width. The plant will grow to a height of 3 feet. This variety, like the others, will need a bit of shade in the warmer areas within zone 9.