Azaleas are a popular yard and potted shrub due to their ability to bloom in a wide variety of conditions and their vibrant colors. But 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 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.
Tips for Pruning Azaleas
So, how do you prune an azalea? First, azaleas should be pruned in a natural fashion, as they’re 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) 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.
Natural is Better
Next, think about why you are trimming your azaleas. Is it to create a better shape plant, to maintain its size or to rejuvenate the plant?
If you’re shaping or aiming to maintain the size of your azalea, then mentally picture how you’d like the azalea bush to look. Keep in mind that a natural and informal look is best for this plant. Choose the branches that are outside of the shape you’re envisioning 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 don’t need to worry about cutting back to a connecting branch. Azaleas will grow new branches from right below wherever you cut.
Pruning to Rejuvenate
If you are pruning an azalea in order to rejuvenate the plant because it’s become spindly or sparse, locate three to five of the largest branches on the azalea bush. Cut these branches back by a third to a half. Trim all the other branches on the plant as though you’re shaping the plant.
Knowing when and how to trim azaleas, you can keep your azalea bushes healthy and looking fabulous. Pruning azaleas is a great way to maintain the beauty of these wonderful plants.