How to prune Azaleas?
Pruning Azaleas is only difficult because you can't see this shrub and not fall in love with it. It's kind of a multi purposes shrub that always delivers beautiful bloom, and is rich with green leaf clusters. Azaleas can be used as a hedge, or as an ornamental plant, regardless what you do with them - they'll always look great!
Now enough bla bla... let's prune!
First and foremost, I would like to thank Ms. Patricia delamonica of Gainesville.FL for taking the pictures and sending them in... Thank you, and full credit to you!
When to prune? As always, there's more than one answer to that. Remember, no two people prune the same way, and if that is the case pruning Azaleas can be done throughout the year. But please note - there is only one kind of pruning that should be done, and that is maintenance pruning. You can always prune and remove branches that grow outside of their territory. You know what I mean, those that bother your expert designer eye ;) or the ones that grow over and cover the path, disturbing you on your way to the shed. These annoying branches can be confidently removed anytime you like.
Where to prune exactly? The annoying branches mentioned above can be pruned wherever you like. Ideally though, just not too deep inside the shrub, or close to the ground - there's no need for it.
When to prune? Great question folks. When it comes to our actually achieving something, and not just maintenance, prune after, and only after blooming ends. Usually in spring.
How to prune? Remember, it's all about what you want to achieve. The Azalea can represent all of your achievements, but in order to get there you do need to prune. So, follow me along the orange brick road (yes I know, it was yellow... but I pruned it and it's turned orange!) and see: the shrub in the picture hasn't been pruned in 14 years (!!!) So, besides showing it a little lllooove.... what I would like to achieve is new growth, stunning bloom, and more green leaves or rich leaf clusters.
The red circle in the center represent the area in which I would like to see rich new growth. Can you see how empty it looks?, well I want it to fill with new young leaves.
The purple circles represent the dried, dead leaves. They are your sign that this is the perfect time to prune your Azalea.
The orange (brick road) represents (more or less guys, it's not an exact science) the area which I will soon prune.
Time for our wish list... all you have to do is prune along the orange line. Look at your shrub, decide where that line passes, (don't think too hard, two inches up or down wont matter) and prune! Pruning in this way will encourage new growth at the bottom and hopefully, fill in the empty zone (red circle) with new leaves.
The stems you have just pruned, and the point at which you pruned will also get vigorous new growth.
That's it. You're done. Just please avoid cutting the shrub lower than 2/3 of its original height.
Note: From what I can see in the picture, if this is how the shrub looked after 14 years, conditions have changed since it was planted. What I mean is that it seems that the Azalea has grow in a half shaded area, and the air condition on the right hand side is definitely not helping the shrub. I know the air condition is a fact of life, but if you can add more light, maybe cut some brunches above this area, it would help it get his old look back.
By the way, before pruning Azaleas, or any shrub, always look for other elements that might disturb its natural growth, and see if perhpas there is something you can do to help.
Providing general guidelines on 'how to prune' any kind of plant is important, but there are plants, and there is YOUR plant. So despite there being loads of information on this site, I also provide specific and personalized support. If something wasn't clear, or you're not sure of your plant's name, simply send me a picture with your question. Use the form below and I'll get back to you. In the mean time, see what others are asking.