Azalea is a large species group of evergreen flowering plants in the rhododendron genus. They vary widely by varietal from large shrubs or small trees to miniaturized flowering houseplants. Like viburnum and other woody flowering plants, azaleas set their buds for the following year's bloom very early after flowering. Schedule any extensive pruning of your azaleas for immediately after bloom in the early summer to minimize the loss of next spring's buds.
Deadhead spent flowers and damaged branches or leaves as needed throughout the growing season. Use clean sharp secateurs on smaller branches and loppers on larger ones to make your cuts. Make it a habit to walk around and inspect the plant for diseased or dying branching and foliage every other time that you water the plant. Catch problems early to prevent disease or insect infestations from establishing themselves.
Harvest bunches of azaleas on long stems for use in cut flower arrangements. Cut them in the early morning hours and put immediately into tepid or warm water for lush arrangements that can last up to a three or four days. Place all cuts 1/4 inch above an outward facing leaf node or bud to encourage outward directional branching and bloom.
Prune your azalea once a year to control the shape, size, interior air flow and branching form if needed or desired. Thin a few older interior branches each year by cutting them down to the crown and pulling them from the canopy. Remove up to one-third of the shrub branching and foliage each year but no more in order reduce stress on the plant and prevent a shock reaction. Set the height and perimeter size of the azalea to suit the setting and your taste.
Create and shape azalea hedging by shearing down the top and sides of your shrubs with manual long blade shears or electric shears. Hold the blades almost parallel to the plant to create flat cuts and at varying angles to create rounded shapes.