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How to Prune Azaleas

By Yolanda Vanveen ; Updated September 21, 2017

Azaleas should be pruned every year or two, and the pruning should never cut the plant down more than a third. Prune azaleas down to the first limb with tips from an experienced gardener in this free video on planting flowers and gardening.


Hi, this is Yolanda from vanveenbulbs.com. In this segment, we're going to learn about how to prune an azalea. And azaleas are beautiful shrubs that are...look a lot like rhododendrons, so just much smaller and more compact. And they're beautiful plants, and they'll grow whether you trim them back or not. But it's nice when you prune them every year or every few years to keep them kind of in shape to keep them more of a round shape. Then that way, they'll grow new lush growth, too, the next year, and they'll look better than they have ever looked. So it's early October, and most of my plants have died back. So when I'm cleaning up my garden, too, I'm cutting the lilies that have already bloomed out, and I find I have an azalea here. And the rule of thumb when you're pruning back an azalea is never cut more than one-third of the plant down. So always leave at least two-thirds of the plant. So if you have a plant that's really big and lanky and you want to cut it down, break it down into three years. So only cut it down one-third each year, and that way, in the end, it'll survive and look much better because if you just hack it down to the ground, sometimes you lose them. So make sure when you are cutting them back, I like to take the lengthier ones down. And make sure and break it down to the first limb. So you cut it flesh within...first limb. So make sure when you cut, there's always another limb there because you never want to cut it too far down where there's no limbs because then they might not grow the next year. So I'm just going through and I'm just kind of trimming it up a little bit. And this one isn't looking that great at this time of the year, so I just want to kind of trim it back and it will grow really well for next year. So I always want to cut them back down to where another branch meets it, and you never cut it all the way down to the stub because then it might not come back. Saying that, I've had some really ratty-looking azaleas, so I just chopped them down really close to the ground, but there was still a lot of branches or potential branches there, and it still grew. It came back and it was really lush. It took a couple of years to really look good again, but it was beautiful for many years. So make sure and you can trim them any time of year, so when you prune your azaleas, the best time is right after they're done blooming or in the fall. But any time is a good time to take care of your garden.


About the Author


Yolanda Vanveen is a third-generation flower grower and sustainable gardener who lives in Kalama, Wash. She is the owner of VanveenBulbs.com, selling flower bulbs on the Internet, at garden shows and at farmers markets in the Pacific Northwest for more than 20 years. Vanveen holds a degree in communications and international studies from Linfield College, and is a graduate of the WSU Master Gardener Program. Vanveen represented the United States at the 2006 Indigenous Bulb Society Symposium in South Africa and has been featured on the PBS show Smart Gardening, demonstrating which way is up with flower bulbs.