Pruning Azaleas
When you get the hang of pruning azaleas, your spring days will be filled with recreation! When do we prune azaleas? After the flowers have displayed and before next year’s flower buds are set. You will have from flower drop to just into summer to prune your azaleas. This is a spring/summer prune, not a dormant season prune. Pruning them in winter will cut off the approaching seasons flowers. This is not to say you cannot prune them in winter, but you will sacrifice flowers. 

The pictures show a thick, heavy shrub before pruning. We took this azalea and pruned it from the inside out. We reached into the plant, found the branch collar, (see below) and cut from deep within the azalea. By doing this we thinned the plant and reduced long, unwanted ends with one simple cut. Notice how all of our cuts are hidden by the plant’s outer shell. We did not shear this plant, yet we gave it a formal look while opening it for light to spark inner buds. By opening our azaleas we help fend off insects that prey upon them due to difficult site conditions or past improper pruning.

Key: Open a plant to light, and it will grow leaves on its inner branches. This builds more leaf surface which creates food for the plant. Plants will generally be healthier with more leaves. It is simple and predictable with sound pruning knowledge. Put an azalea in the right place, prune it right and your entire neighborhood will reap the benefits of your good deed.

Happy pruning, and write me with questions or things I can pass on to everyone else!! 


BRANCH COLLAR = The all important area where cuts are made to separate the sub-dominate branch from the dominate stem. There is usually a swelling at the base of the sub-dominate branch. Come just out from the swelling as not to injure that part and remove the branch. The placement of this cut allows the collar to seal off the wound, (remember we use the word seal rather that heal when we discuss wound closure), allowing wound wood to form over the injury. This procedure is PARAMOUNT when discussing the pruning of all woody plants. Further information on Tree Biology is found in Dr. Alex L. Shigo’s book, Tree Pruning, A Worldwide Photo Guide.

Copyright 2005 by Peter Deahl. All rights reserved.
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