How to Prune Azalea Plants

Overview

Azaleas are perennial shrubs that produce dense floral displays. There are more than 800 varieties, most of which originate in East Asia. A member of the Rhododendron genus, Azaleas prefer warm climates with indirect sunlight. Older plants can benefit greatly from regular pruning, which encourages new growth, reduces disease and stabilizes the plant. The best time to prune is in early spring, which gives new growth a chance to fully mature before winter.

Step 1

Clean your cutting tools with boiling water or a 10 percent bleach solution. This prevents the spread of disease and minimizes damage to plants.

Step 2

Remove branches that are shaded out by cutting them cleanly at the base. Stems that are shaded by larger branches tend to die off and leave your plant looking scraggly. Cut these out first before shaping the rest of your plant.

Step 3

Snap off any suckers growing from the base of the plant. These tend to be shaded out and suck precious energy from your azalea.

Step 4

Prune any branches growing inwards or the wrong direction. This improves air circulation and reduces the risk of fungal disease.

Step 5

Cut off any dead, diseased or dying branches. Snip off at the base of the stem until clean, white wood is exposed. Always dispose of branches away from your growing site.

Step 6

Remove two to three large branches from older azalea plants that have grown too big for your garden. To minimize the shock to your plant, remove large branches over a two- to three-year period.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not prune after mid-June as this could reduce blossoms the following year.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Boiling water or bleach

References

  • Azalea Society of America: FAQs
  • The United States National Arboretum: Azaleas
  • American Rhododendron Society: Tips for Beginners
Keywords: prune azalea, azalea pruning method, azalea care

About this Author

Kelsey Erin Shipman has worked as a travel writer, poet, journalist and award-winning photographer since 2004. Her work has appeared in various newspapers, magazines and journals. Shipman has also authored three collections of poetry: "Cold Days," "Bastante" and "Short Poems." She earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Southwestern University.