The Q&A Archives: Prune Azalea

Question: When do I prune and how much of the azalea? My plants are very large and very old.

Answer: Azaleas should be pruned in late spring after they are finished blooming. The plants can then regrow and set bloom buds for the following spring. If you prune an azalea in fall or winter, you are cutting away the already-formed bloom buds and will not have as much bloom when spring arrives.

Azaleas need very little pruning. Usually cutting back a few gangly canes is all that is needed. Sometimes a light shearing is desired to shape a bush. More drastic pruning is only done when a large plant has become way too overgrown and needs the drastic pruning to bring it back down to an acceptable size and shape. If this is the case with your plants, plan to rehabilitate them over a three year period, removing only one-third of the live material each year until they're the right size.

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