The Q&A Archives: Pruning Azaela and Boxwood

Question: When is the best time and what is the best way to trim azaleas and boxwoods?

Answer: Azaleas need little pruning except to remove dead wood. Overgrown plants may be thinned to reduce their size by cutting back 1/3 of their stems to the ground each year for 3 years. This rejuvenating pruning is best done when the plant is dormant in late winter or after flowering in spring. To prune individual branches back for size or shape, use hand pruners rather than hedge trimmers, individually pruning each branch. Prune back to another branch or bud, so as not to leave stubs which will eventually die and be open to disease and insects. Azaleas should always be pruned to a natural shape.

Boxwood can be sheared or left natural. For a formal hedge shear the new growth to produce the maximum number of densly-growing branches. Boxwood can also be thinned and hand pruned for a more casual looking hedge or shrub. Prune in late winter while still dormant for heavy trimming. They may be clipped at anytime for neatness.

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