How to Prune Evergreen Azaleas


Evergreen azaleas, most native to Japan, make attractive additions to flower gardens with their many shades of purple, pink and red blossoms. With correct planting and care, evergreen azaleas may not require much pruning because they're not generally prone to growing out of control. You may need to prune evergreen azaleas to remove dead branches killed by cold winters or cut back an azalea that begins to crowd a walkway.

Step 1

Remove dead branches by cutting them back to a spot where you can find green material when you nick the bark.

Step 2

Apply aerosol wound dressing if the cut end is bigger than a quarter-inch in diameter. This will discourage insects and fungus from gaining access to the plant via the wound.

Step 3

Curb an overgrown azalea by removing projecting branches. Cut them a short distance inside the plant at a junction with another branch.

Step 4

Make cuts flush and don't leave stubs. The stubs may die from lack of light and encourage fungus infection.

Step 5

Continue cutting back projecting branches as needed to maintain the azalea's desired size and shape.

Step 6

Prune evergreen azalea stalks back to within 1 foot of the soil surface in the spring to rejuvenate plants with long, bare trunks. Leave some of the lower branches intact, and spray the cut stalks with wound dressing.

Step 7

Pinch back new shoots once or twice before August to encourage branching.

Step 8

Increase the density of twigs and flower buds on bare azaleas by pinching off the new growth to encourage branching. Don't pinch the shoots too early or they'll produce another single shoot; wait until late June or early July when the shoots snap if bent double.

Step 9

Continue pinching back to encourage branching until the first of August.

Step 10

Stop pinching back your azalea shoots after the first week of August so that there is still enough growing season left for the plants to set flower buds for the following spring.

Step 11

Remove suckers from the base of your established azalea if it is a variety that sends them up. These suckers will not receive enough light under an established azalea plant.

Step 12

Allow at least three main branches to grow on a young azalea to encourage a bushy growth rather than a treelike, single trunk.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Aerosol plant wound dressing


  • American Rhododendron Society: How to Prune Evergreen Azaleas

Who Can Help

  • Azalea Society of America
Keywords: overgrown azalea, prune evergreen azalea, shaping bushes

About this Author

Angie Mansfield is a freelance writer living and working in Minnesota. She began freelancing in 2008. Mansfield's work has appeared in online sites and publications such as theWAHMmagazine, for parents who work at home, and eHow. She is an active member of Absolute Write and Writer's Village University.