When should I prune my azaleas? NOW…and here’s why & how!


How, Why, & When to Prune Azaleas - Redeem Your Ground | RYGblog.com


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.

When & How to Prune Azaleas - Redeem Your Ground | RYGblog.com

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…whyhow.


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.

When & How to Prune Azaleas - Redeem Your Ground | RYGblog.com

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.

When & How to Prune Azaleas - Redeem Your Ground | RYGblog.com

To learn a bit more about the different kinds of azaleas and how to prune them, check out this post a few years ago.

Additional Information

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.

When & How to Prune Azaleas - Redeem Your Ground | RYGblog.com


With that I’ll bid you adieu…I’ve got some other things to take care of in the garden!

Take care,
Doug initial

If you're not already subscribed to RYG and want to get periodic updates, links to new posts & other ground redeeming info ... just enter your email address below. Easy as that!


  1. Kate Buszka on June 3, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Passing this along to the hubs! We’ve just recently gotten our hands dirty making our outdoor space more of our own, and azaleas are a big part of that!

    Now if you could ALSO write a post about why my hydrangeas are all dying… that would be super 😉

  2. Deb on June 7, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Timely post. I need to prune my azaleas and am never sure how to do it properly. Thanks.

    • Doug Scott on June 11, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      You are so welcome Deb! I STILL haven’t pruned mine…and July 4th will be here before we know it…and the longer I wait the more likely I’ll lop off branches with some flowering lovelies! Maybe this weekend. This is just another example that a gardeners job is never done! Take care and thanks for chiming in my friend, D.

  3. Kevin McHugh on March 20, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    I have Delaware Valley azaleas that are about 10 feet tall that bloom spectacularly, but I want to cut them back. How far can I go? I also have an area of azaleas (several varieties getting 4-6 feet tall) where a branch of leaves will suddenly wither and die. At an early stage of whatever this disease seems to be, a cut branch will show a core that is mostly brown. What is causing this?

    • Doug Scott on March 24, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      Hey Kevin..sorry to just be getting back with you. Spring is a crazy time of year for folks in the landscape biz…as you would imagine. Thanks for reaching out.

      As for your Delaware Valley Azaleas…you can be pretty aggressive with your pruning…even cutting beyond where there are leaves. You’ll start seeing leaves pop back out in fairly short order. Note, though…the timing of when to prune them is critical. If you want to see this years blooms…wait until after they finish and then prune within a 3-4 week window after they stop blooming. This is because they set their buds for next year on this years growth. The rule of thumb here in Atlanta is if you wait until after 4th of July you’ve waited too long. Here’s a link to an article by my friend Steve Bender (aka, the Grumpy Gardener) over at Southern Living…all about how and when to prune azaleas.

      As for complete branches dying, if these are from really old azaleas I’d suspect that they may just be reaching the end of their life. So I’d cut those branches out…all the way to the ground or plant…and then at some point you might just need to have a funeral. That said, there certainly are diseases brought on by pests or fungi that could be causing this. Rather than recreate the wheel, I’m going to point you to this article by Jackie Carroll: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/shrubs/azalea/azalea-branches-dying.htm. I hope you find it helpful.

      Thanks again for reaching out…good luck…and I hope you have a great weekend.

      Take care, D.

  4. Alicia Lewis on May 15, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    Do you have any suggestions for what pairs nicely in front of/around azaleas? I just planted a beautiful bright pink one in a small berm under the shade of a big elm tree and I’d like to add 2-3 plants around it that bloom later than the azalea, but pair nicely with it? I would also like it have a more “wild” look if you know what I mean! Any help or suggestions would be appreciated!

    • Doug Scott on May 20, 2018 at 1:51 pm

      Hey there Alicia, thanks for reaching out. Before I can answer your question specifically, what variety of azaleas do you have, where do you live, and how much sun do you get near your azaleas. But just fyi…in my yard, I have mostly ground covers near & around my azaleas – Autumn Fern, Holly Fern, all kids of hostas (variegated and not)…as well as astilbe, gardenia radicans, and lenton roses. Only a few of those have flowers…however, they all provide a nice contrast from a color and texture perspective. If you have larger azaleas (e.g., Southern Indica), you could also put sweeps of various hydrangeas for later blooming pops of color. I hope this helps, and thanks again for reaching out. Take care, D.

Leave a Comment