Pruning azaleas after a hard freeze - Knowledgebase Question

Asheville, NC
Avatar for trc2
Question by trc2
May 18, 2007
1) Long overlooked azaleas had just started to bloom when we had a three day freeze around easter. Flowers died overnight. Now, a month later leaves are starting. Is now a good time to prune?

2) We are new to this property and the azaelas had not been pruned for years. They are tall with leaves only on the top 1/3 of plant. Can I cut these way back and expect them to come back.

Answer from NGA
May 18, 2007
Azaleas with foliage only on the top third tend to be that way due to excessive shade rather than lack of pruning, so I am not certain that pruning the azaleas will achieve the effect you are after. It is sometimes possible to rejuvenate old overgrown azaleas by cutting them off short, however this is better done early in the season before they bloom so they have more strength to devote to the regrowth. It is very stressful on the plants and can kill them if they are already weakened, so please keep that in mind. Once you have cut them off short, then you can pinch or lightly prune the regrowth to try to stimulate branching. However, in a shady location the branching will have a naturally airy pattern and the foliage will naturally be sparse so the pruning and pinching can only do so much.

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