Azalea is a bush of flowers of the genus Rhododendron, there are thousands of varieties that exist, among them there are the evergreen type and the deciduous type. All of them are characterized by the beauty of their flowers, they bloom in spring and often they can last several weeks. They are native to several continents including Asia, Europe and North America. The places in the world where they are most used as ornamental plants are the southeastern United States, South Asia, and parts of southwest Europe. Its great popularity means that an article in this blog about how and when to prune azaleas bushes can not be missing. We will also take the time to leave some basic advice on the care of this plant.

Note: Please note that the advice given here is general, this blog is consulted from many countries in the world, with totally different characteristics, what not all tips will be adapted in the same way in all cases. Once you finish reading the article it will be necessary to analyze all the information and apply what you have learned in the best way. If you have any questions, remember that you can contact us to make your inquiries.

1. Basic care needed in azaleas shrub

Although the pruning of azaleas is the central axis of this article, it does not stop being one of several of the caution that this bush needs to be healthy, strong and beautiful. In this section we will see the key care of azaleas.

  • Location: they grow well both indoors and outdoors. Keep in mind that they suffer in hot and dry climates, so you must replace the deficiencies of the weather if you decide to plant it in an outdoor garden or keep it in a closed room without ventilation.
  • Luminosity: these plants require a lot of light. In the same way you should not expose it directly to the sun or its leaves will wilt. His favorite place is one with a semi shadow.
Azalea flower
  • Temperature: those who suffer most in terms of temperature are the sudden changes of it. They like temperate and well ventilated environments. If you have them outside you have to protect them from low temperatures, and if you have them inside the lack of humidity.
  • Irrigation: azaleas need humid environments, both soil and environment. If you have a pot you can water it by placing it on a plate with water about 5-10 minutes a day, this will make the azalea drink the water it needs without flooding the soil. It is very important to keep in mind that for irrigation you should use soft water (PH of 4 or 5), if you collect rainwater it will be an excellent option.
  • Reproduction: They reproduce mainly by cuttings of almost woody shoots and of a length around 15 centimeters, which are planted at a depth of approximately 2 centimeters.
  • Pruning: how could it be otherwise pruning should be in this list, in the subsequent sections we will deepen the issue.

2. Tools needed to prune or trim an azalea bush

There are several tools that you will need to perform your pruning or trimming of a azalea bush. Each of them is appropriate for different cases depending on age, time of year, type of pruning, etc.

  • Hand Pruning Shears: Stems up to half inch in diameter can be pruned with hand shears.
  • Lopping Shears: It is suitable to use on stems between half inch and 2 inches in diameter.
  • Hedge Shears: Manual and power shears are available for trimming hedges. Manual shears have long, flat blades with relatively short handles and are good for small jobs. Electric shears are a good choice for larger hedges.
  • Saws: A number of pruning saws are available. These saws come with either curved or straight blades and of variable lengths and points. Curved blades that cut on the draw stroke are easy to use.

Keep in mind that you must disinfect all the tools before trimming your azalea. This will help prevent disease transmission, you will have to do it before you start pruning and every time you change plants.

2.1 Needed care of pruning tools

If you want to extend the useful life of your pruning tools there are some basic care.

  • Use the right tool for a job and avoid twisting or straining it.
  • Clean and oil tools regularly by wiping an oily cloth on blades and other surfaces.
  • Keep cutting edges sharp by regularly using an oilstone.
  • Wooden handles should be varnished or regularly treated with linseed oil to keep them from cracking or splintering.

Carry out the previous care on a regular basis and you will be saving good money on tools. 🙂

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3. Trimming azaleas – How and when to prune

Since there are many varieties of azaleas, it is difficult for us to cover the pruning of each and every one of these varieties. Therefore, we will begin by analyzing the aspects of pruning in a general way, and then take some special cases.

In general terms we can divide the cut of this shrub into the following types:

  • Pruning in spring.
  • Pruning after flowering.
  • Maintenance and cleaning.
  • Hard pruning azaleas.

In what follows we will analyze each of the prunings just detailed.

3.1 How to prune azaleas in spring

The beginning of spring is an excellent time to prune your garden, and among the plants you should prune are your azaleas.

Take advantage of these days to perform maintenance pruning, cutting all dead or diseased stems and branches. Make the cut at the point of connection between wood dry or diseased and healthy wood.

Remember that during the pruning you are wounding the plant, so try to make small and clean cuts minimizing the size of the wounds, for this it will help to use sharp tools.

3.2 Pruning azaleas after blooming (summer)

Just as the beginning of spring is a good time to prune your azaleas bushes, so is summer, especially when it has stopped flowering. It is this moment that you can take advantage of to perform a slight annual pruning.

Azalea shrub
Azalea shrub

Remove all those long, crisscrossed stems, and everything that comes in the way you want to give the bush. Looking for the most crowded areas, do not let yourself be cut in scarce areas of foliage. As for this, you can take advantage of making clippings of the tips of the branches where you need to increase the density of foliage. If you have already shaped your azalea in previous prunings, look for the old cuts and prune at that height, so it will recover the previous form.

When we talk about pruning after flowering you should do it between the first and third week since the flowers have withered. If you have delayed in pruning, and it has been more than three weeks, it is preferable not to prune. This is because if you prune in late summer or early fall you can cut the buds that are maturing and then bloom in spring.

3.3 Pruning maintenance and cleaning

This pruning of the azalea is the classic pruning that almost every plant needs. The objective of the plant is to keep the plant healthy, eliminate unhelpful elements for development and improve flowering to a certain degree.

As I always say, before starting to cut back, take some time to analyze the plant carefully, then you should eliminate the following:

  • Begin to trim the branches completely dry, will help the aesthetics of the plant.
  • If you find branches attacked by a plague or disease, it is time to cut it.
  • Eliminates the pacifiers, besides not producing flowers, they contain a lot of energy. They are usually inside the plant, look for them and take them from their base.
  • If you see branches with a bad orientation or crossed that do not go hand in hand with the shape of your shrub cut them.

Once the pruning is finished, you should study what to do with the waste. If you have not cut sick or attacked by pests, you can use them in your garden (for example, compost), otherwise try to remove such waste from the garden to avoid spreading diseases or pests to other plants.

3.4 Hard pruning azaleas

In old azaleas, where size has become uncontrollable and annoying, hard pruning may be necessary. It is a very simple pruning, it will only consist of cutting each branch until leaving it about 6 inches from the ground. Do not worry about performing this drastic pruning, the azaleas recover perfectly.

Hard pruning in azaleas bushes
Hard pruning in azaleas bushes

The most appropriate time to perform this pruning is after the plant has finished flowering. If you wait a lot to make these cuts you will be cutting the flowers next year, although if you have no problem losing a flowering you can delay this pruning.

Select a pruning tool such as pruning shears or hand saws and try to make cuts leaving a rounded shape at the top. In hard pruning like this, never forget to sterilize the blades and place healing paste paste to the wounds.

4. Special cases in azaleas trimming

We already analyze in a general way the pruning of this bush, now it is time to see some special cases, which will be the following:

  • Perennial azaleas.
  • Expired azaleas.
  • Azaleas in pots.
  • Overgrown azaleas.

Next we will see how pruning varies in each of the four previous cases.

4.1 How to prune evergreen azaleas

In general terms we can say that if the place where we planted our evergreen azalea is properly selected, and the necessary care is given, practically no type of pruning will be necessary. However, some situations will always arise in which pruning can be useful. Some of those situations are:

  • To eliminate dead wood, whether by cold, fungi, lack of water, inadequate fertilization, etc. Try to cut the dry branches just above where the wood is alive. If the cut end is more than a quarter of an inch wide place some paste covers cut to prevent the invasion of fungi or other diseases.
  • Due to the need to reduce the size of the bush, which, having selected the correct variety of azalea for the place where we planted it, did not need to be pruned. These shrubs recover very well to pruning, so do not be afraid to trim to shrink it. Cut the branches flush, leaving no pieces as these will surely die and will be a peruta of entry for any pest or disease.
  • Another reason why you may need to prune your perennial azalea is to increase foliage density. This will be achieved by trimming or pinching new growths to induce new ramifications. Usually, the best time to perform this pruning is in June or early July, depending on the variety, when new shoots tend to break when doubled. Selective pinching of terminal shoots to increase branching can continue until approximately the first week of August. Late pruning will eliminate flower buds for the following year.
  • Like many bushes, azaleas behave very well in pruning to shape, it can be given along with the task of cutting tips or pinching terminal shoots.

4.1.1 Summary

If you prune this variety of azaleas taking into account these three rules you will have no problem:

Rule 1: Select the correct variety for the place where you will plant this shrub. Keep in mind that there are hundreds of varieties, including dwarf, medium and tall, in many colors and that bloom early or late.

Rule 2: Stop pruning while there is still time for the plant to develop flower buds for the next flowering season (early August in the Mid-Atlantic region and late August in the South).

Rule 3: Do not leave pieces when cutting large branches, prune them with another branch.

4.2 Pruning deciduous azaleas

As with your evergreen azaleas, the deciduous ones also need to be pruned. Pruning needs are similar to those given in perennials, so there are some variations.

To not reiterate what I said in previous sections I have selected a good video where you can see how to carry out pruning in deciduous azaleas (
Giroud Tree and Lawn channel
)

4.3 Pruning azaleas in pots

If you have a potted azalea it may be due to several reasons, such as; you live in cold areas where you must enter your plant in cold seasons, you are waiting for it to grow to perform the transplant in your garden, you have a azalea bonsai.

For the first case (you live in cold areas) the pruning that you must carry out does not differ in anything with respect to what is recommended here. Only add as a recommendation that you take your plant outside when pruning for easy cleaning. As for the second case (you have not yet transplanted), you will not need to prune, let your plant grow freely until it is the size you consider appropriate for the transplant.

For the latter case, in which we talk about a bonsai, pruning is not as simple as what we saw here. We would need a special article to talk about the pruning of a azalea bonsai, so as not to extend this article too much I will leave you a good video on the subject (John Geanangel channel).
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4.4 How to prune overgrown azaleas

As you may have noticed, and not to reiterate the same concepts ten times in the post (something quite tiring for you and me), I have been selecting videos to respond to these special cases. This last case (pruning of Overgrown Azalea Shrub) will not be the exception, I hope this video ( Giroud Tree and Lawn channel) is very useful. 😉

You may also be interested in knowing about pruning:

Well up to here we have arrived with this article in which we talked about how and when to prune azaleas bushes. I hope you have no doubt when you should take your scissors and get to work.