Image by Dennis Wong
By Heather Rhoades
Azaleas are a popular yard shrub due to their ability to bloom in a wide variety of conditions and their vibrant colors. But many homeowners wonder how do you prune an azalea to keep it a manageable size and shape. Pruning azaleas is easy and can be done with a few simple rules in mind. Let’s look at how to trim azalea bushes.
When To Trim Azaleas
The best time when to trim azaleas is after the blossoms have faded but before the new blossom buds have started. The next year’s blossoms typically start forming at the beginning of July, so you must prune an azalea bush before then.
If you prune azaleas after the beginning of July, you may not get any flowers on the bush next year.
How Do You Prune An Azalea? Tips For Pruning Azaleas
First, azaleas should be pruned in a natural fashion as they are not well suited for formal styles of pruning. Trying to prune an azalea bush so that is has straight edges and is box shaped (as would be seen if cut with hedge clippers) like will result in spotty flowering and splotchy growth of branches.
Instead, when pruning azaleas, use pruning shears to cut individual branches at the proper spot.
Next, think about why you are trimming your azaleas. Is it to create a better shape plant or to maintain size or to rejuvenate the azalea plant?
If you are shaping or maintain the size of your azalea, then mentally picture how you would like the azalea bush to look. Keep in mind that a natural and not formal look is best. Pick out the branches on the plant that are outside of your mental shape for the plant and cut each one of those back. Try not to cut any one branch back by more than a third.
When pruning azaleas, you do not need to worry about cutting back to a connecting branch. Azaleas will grow new branches from right below wherever you cut.
If you are pruning an azalea in order to rejuvenate the plant because it is spindly or sparse, locate 3-5 of the largest branches on the azalea bush. Cut these branches back by a third to a half. Trim all of the other branches on the plant as though you were shaping the plant.
Now that you know when to trim azaleas and how to trim azalea bushes, you can keep your azalea bushes healthy and looking fabulous. Pruning azaleas is a great way to maintain these wonderful plants’ beauty.