Azaleas form the backbone of my backyard. Mrs. G. G. Gerbing Azaleas to be exact…I probably have over 100 of them. Some people ding azaleas for their short blooming season. But I’m good with that…because when mine are in bloom, my yard looks quite Shangri-La’esque if I do say so myself. And when they’re not in bloom, they create a great evergreen backdrop for the rest of my landscape plants.
All that said, given their short blooming season you really want to make the most of your Azaleas when they bloom. One really big mistake that many people make is pruning them too late in the year…which will effectively cut off a good portion of next year’s blooms.
So this post will help you know when to prune your azaleas…why & how.
When to Prune Azaleas…and Why?
Azaleas bloom on “old wood”. Which means they set their blooms on last year’s growth. So if you prune this year’s growth too late…which will be last year’s growth next year…you’ll be cutting off next year’s flowers. Not something you want to do. With that, here are a few tips for when to prune your azaleas:
- The best time to prune your azaleas is within 3 weeks of when they are done blooming.
- But to be honest, I’ve never made that deadline. There’re just too many other things to do in my garden that time of year. Fortunately there’s still time.
- You should complete all your pruning by the Forth of July. After that you’ll likely be cutting out next year’s blooms.
- So if it’s past July 4th…be patient and use your pruners on some other unsuspecting shrub. That said, feel free to cut back any dead or unhealthy branches … but don’t get carried away, otherwise you’ll be sorry next year.
How to Prune Azaleas
Here are a few quick & dirty tips on how to prune azaleas:
- Decide how high and how wide you want your shrub to be and then reach into the interior of your azalea and cut stems at varying heights.
- Try to make all your cuts at a point where the stem branches…especially for larger stems. To do that, pick a stem that is higher or wider than you want it to be and follow it back to where it branches and make a cut there…varying where you make your cuts up & down your azalea on subsequent stems.
- If you make a cut randomly along a stem (i.e., not at a branch), you’ll be left with an unsightly stub sticking up…which could die and potentially invite disease to the entire plant.
- After you make a few cuts, step back and take a look at how things are coming…making sure to keep the plant’s natural symmetry. Then go in for your next set of cuts.
- And because it’s important to mention again, make sure you vary where you make your cuts – up & down the plant.
To learn a bit more about the different kinds of azaleas and how to prune them, check out this post a few years ago.
Hopefully this should at least get you on your way to wrangling your overgrown or just misshapen azaleas. But if you want to read more, check out one of these links below.
With that I’ll bid you adieu…I’ve got some other things to take care of in the garden!