When to trim azaleas?

Azalea Pruning Tips

Each spring, azaleas light up our gardens with a profusion of colorful blooms. These classic mounding shrubs drift across the landscape like showy clouds. Once established, they need little care. Prune them correctly, and watch plants produce layers of beautiful bell-shaped flowers.

When To Prune Azaleas
Prune azaleas soon after they bloom in the spring or early summer. The perfect time is when spent flowers begin to discolor and shrivel. Cutting them back in late summer, fall, or winter will remove flowerbuds and keep them from blooming.

Azalea Prooning Tools
A pair of hand clippers and loppers are all you’ll need. Hand clippers work well on limbs smaller than ½ inch in diameter. Loppers handle branches ½ to 1 ½ inches thick. They have long handles, which give you plenty of leverage for cutting woody limbs and allow you to reach into the center of shrubs. Don’t use shears on azaleas unless you are creating a formal look or a shaped hedge. Remember, squared-off hedges and closely clipped shrubs require a lot of maintenance.

Keep cutting tools sharp, so their blades make clean cuts when slicing through wood. Many quality clippers have replacement blades. Small files designed just for sharpening blades can also be purchased. Dull tools make pruning more difficult and will crush and tear stems.

How to Prune Azaleas
In most landscapes, azaleas look best when minimally pruned, allowing them to retain their naturally graceful form. Remove long stray shoots by reaching down into the plant and making cuts next to larger woody branches. This allows sunlight and air movement in the center of the shrub, which promotes healthy new growth.

Major Azalea Pruning
When azaleas grow too big for their surroundings, they may need to be pruned drastically. You can cut overgrown plants down to about 1 foot in height. Then feed them with a slow-release, water-soluble fertilizer (12-6-6). Frequently water the plants you cut back to encourage a flush of suckers from the stumps. The following spring, the shrubs should be covered with lots of new growth. Reduce the number of shoots per stump to two or three, leaving only the strongest and best placed ones.

Choose the Right Azaleas
When planting azaleas, use selections that won’t outgrow the space. Satsuki Hybrids such as ‘Gumpo’ grow only about 3 feet tall, while Southern Indica Hybrids such as ‘George Lindley Taber’ and ‘Mrs. G.G. Gerbing’ can grow 10 feet tall. Read tags and label information before buying plants, and check with reputable landscapers or your county Extension agent to ensure you’re making the right choice. A large shrub growing in a small area can create a maintenance nightmare.

How to plant and grow azaleas               

Add some striking colour to your garden makeover

Azaleas are a much loved flowering shrub, which come in a wide range of colours and potential heights. Most varieties are long flowering and many are suitable for growing in tubs. Azaleas are relatively easy to grow and long lived if given reasonable care. Our cultural notes should ensure excellent results.

Where to plant your azaleas

A semi-shaded position, with morning sun, results in better quality flowers and a longer flowering period. Dew or frost followed by sun in the morning can cause burn or fading of the flowers.

Acidity and soil conditions

Azaleas require a pH of around 5.5 or in other words, an acidic soil. Good drainage and a light soil are essential. Heavy soil can be lightened by the addition of peat moss and coarse river sand. The addition of compost is also beneficial.
To learn more about what garden mixes and soil conditioners are right for Azaleas, be sure to check out our soil and garden guide article.

Planting Azaleas

Azaleas are shallow rooted. Their roots feed close to the soil surface. When planting, a shallow half moon shaped hole should be dug up and ideally, peat moss mixed with existing soil. The top of the root ball should be at the same level as the surrounding soil surface when planted. It is advisable with a pot grown Azalea to lightly tease out the root ball before planting to help establish the plant in your garden.

When to mulch AZALEAS

A light mulch in late spring is beneficial for Azaleas. This stops the plants from drying out quickly in summer. As Azaleas are shallow rooted, care must be taken not to mulch too heavily. It is therefore advisable to remove the previous year’s mulch before applying another mulch layer.

How to Fertilise your AZALEAS

Fertilising should commence in August to September and into spring after the flowers have finished and continue until early January or until next years flowers buds have set. In October, an application of Garden Gold which contains a wetting agent is recommended. This should be repeated in January.

Watering your AZALEAS

Over watering generally kills Azaleas more than anything else does. If in doubt as to watering, feel the soil about 10cm (4 inches) down around the plant to see if it is dry. In summer, regular watering will be required, particularly on hot days. However, during the cool months of the year, a thorough soaking once a week should be sufficient. In winter and spring watering of the foliage should be avoided as this can encourage petal blight.

Leaf fall

Azaleas have spring and summer foliage. Spring leaves appear at flowering time on the new growth. They are thinner and larger than summer leaves and short lived. These leaves fall in autumn, often turning orange, crimson or yellow. This is quite normal and should not cause concern. The summer leaves remain on the plant towards the top of the branches and is set closely together.

pruning azaleas

The new spring growth on Azaleas can be pruned to maintain the attractive shape of the plants. Best done October/ November. If pruned they may continue to grow a few more inches than the branch. This extra growth should be realized when pruning to shape the Azalea.


Red Spider, thrips and lace bug are the most common type of pests that attack Azaleas- all can be controlled using Confidor. The result of attack by these pests, which all suck on the underside of the foliage, is a silvering or speckled appearance on the top of the foliage. To control Red Spider properly it is necessary to spray twice at two-week intervals. Red Spider can be identified by looking for fine webs and small brown spots under the foliage. Spray with Natrasoap fortnightly until controlled. Azaleas may also be attacked by White Fly; tiny white insects that fly out in clouds from the plant when foliage is brushed. Confidor will control these also.

AZALEAS diseases

Azalea Petal Blight can ruin a spectacular display of flowers. It is at its worst in damp weather, causing flowers to collapse and turn to a mushy consistency. Hand removal of affected buds when the plant is in flower will control this problem. Over watering or poor drainage may cause root rot. This is the most common cause of death in Azaleas. The plants droop and rapidly die because of this soil borne fungus. Fongarid or Anti-rot used as directed will help to control this disease but this is a temporary measure. Subsoil drainage must be installed where this is a problem and/or the amount of water given to plants adjusted.

TUB culture

Premium Garden Mix blend is ideal. Remember to be careful when watering as pots dry out in hot weather. However, watering in winter can be overdone. Evaporation may dry out the top layer of the soil but as the plant is dormant and using little water, the subsoil stays moist. Do not over-plant! Small plants placed in larger pots than required have large areas of soil not being used. This soil stays moist longer and will cause root rot to develop. Potted plants are restricted in their search for food. Light applications of Thrive soluble fertiliser are desirable once a month through summer to keep your plants healthy. Azaleas must have good drainage and thus the potting mix is most important.
For further information on Azaleas or any other gardening questions you may have, we recommended that you speak to our friendly staff for more specific information



SERIES 16 | Episode 13

Over the grey months of winter look out for the many gardens filled with azaleas, and their vibrantly coloured pink, mauve, orange and golden yellow flowers.

Azaleas are in the rhododendron family Ericaceae. These plants originate from Japan, China and Korea. There are three main types of azalea – the indica hybrids, the karume hybrids and the mollis hybrids. The indicas spot flower from autumn through winter, with their main flush in spring.

Azaleas grow well in a range of climates from Brisbane to Perth, and further south to Melbourne. They thrive in a slightly acidic soil with good drainage.

Azaleas look great planted en masse in a garden bed. But remember to use plenty of compost – it acts like blotting paper around the roots, and keeps them moist but not over wet. Use a mulch, even chopped up leaves, on the soil surface.

If there is no room in the garden then azaleas also do well in pots. When potting into a pot make sure there is a drainage hole at the bottom, and use a good quality potting mix.

Just tickle the roots and backfill with the mix. A good tip is to leave a gap between the top of the potting mix and the pot so the water doesn’t overflow. Liquid fertilise and keep moist during the growth time over spring and summer.

Unfortunately azaleas have a reputation of being prone to pests and diseases. For example, look out for azalea lace bug on the leaves. A sign of this sap- sucking bug is brown and silvery mottled leaves. To control this it’s best to spray in spring, at the start of the growth season. Jane suggests seeking advice from your local nursery about possible sprays because some are poisonous. The other method of control is to prune the damaged branches. Prune after flowering for plenty of new growth.

During a wet winter you might find some of the flowers on the indicas become mushy and brown. This is called azalea petal blight. Spray this with a fungicide, or simply remove the flowers and dispose of them.

Azaleas can also grow long, rather spindly looking stems so prune these off after flowering to ensure a compact bush.

Recently much work has been done hybridizing azaleas, so they are more tolerant of a wider range of soils and climates, and there are always new varieties and colours on the market to look out for.

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When to Prune Your Spring Shrubs in Richmond

Posted by Virginia Green in Tree & Shrub Care

May was a pretty wet month this year. May will actually go on record as being the wettest May for Richmond. The sun hid lot behind those rain clouds. With all that rain, it had been hard to prune those spring shrubs that have already finished blooming.

So when is the best time to prune the spring shrubs?

The best time to prune those spring blooming shrubs is within six weeks after they finish blooming. It has not been a good time to prune, since the shrubs are more susceptible to disease during the rainy days. So pick those dry sunny day to prune your shrubs.

Should I prune all my spring shrubs?

For shrubs like forsythia, it is now too late to prune back until next year. By pruning them now you may cut off next year’s flower blooms. Now is a good time to prune azaleas that have already bloomed. Prune them to shape, or to lower them below windows. Pruning helps to keep them more compact. Fertilizing after pruning with a low nitrogen fertilizer can beneficial to them.

Looking forward at Sunshine!

Behind every silvery cloud there is some sunshine. May was cloudy and wet, but hopefully June will hold warmer, drier and sunnier days. So grab your sharp pruners and happy pruning.

Steps To Prune An Azalea Bush: How Do You Prune An Azalea

Azaleas are a popular yard shrub due to their ability to bloom in a wide variety of conditions and their vibrant colors. But many homeowners wonder how do you prune an azalea to keep it a manageable size and shape. Pruning azaleas is easy and can be done with a few simple rules in mind. Let’s look at how to trim azalea bushes.

When to Trim Azaleas

The best time when to trim azaleas is after the blossoms have faded but before the new blossom buds have started. The next year’s blossoms typically start forming at the beginning of July, so you must prune an azalea bush before then.

If you prune azaleas after the beginning of July, you may not get any flowers on the bush next year.

Tips for Pruning Azaleas

So, how do you prune an azalea? First, azaleas should be pruned in a natural fashion as they are not well suited for formal styles of pruning. Trying to prune an azalea bush so that is has straight edges and is box shaped (as would be seen if cut with hedge clippers) will result in spotty flowering and splotchy growth of branches. Instead, when pruning azaleas, use pruning shears to cut individual branches at the proper spot.

Next, think about why you are trimming your azaleas. Is it to create a better shape plant or to maintain size or to rejuvenate the azalea plant?

If you are shaping or maintain the size of your azalea, then mentally picture how you would like the azalea bush to look. Keep in mind that a natural and not formal look is best. Pick out the branches on the plant that are outside of your mental shape for the plant and cut each one of those back. Try not to cut any one branch back by more than a third.

When pruning azaleas, you do not need to worry about cutting back to a connecting branch. Azaleas will grow new branches from right below wherever you cut.

If you are pruning an azalea in order to rejuvenate the plant because it is spindly or sparse, locate three to five of the largest branches on the azalea bush. Cut these branches back by a third to a half. Trim all of the other branches on the plant as though you were shaping the plant.

Now that you know when to trim azaleas and how to trim azalea bushes, you can keep your azalea bushes healthy and looking fabulous. Pruning azaleas is a great way to maintain these wonderful plants’ beauty.

Pruning Azaleas

Author Karyn Wofford

Azaleas are beautiful, flowering shrubs that bloom in the spring, and thrive particularly well in the Southeast. While they can grow to around eight feet tall, keeping these flowering bushes trimmed and shaped allows for proper air circulation, disease prevention and overall better health. By following a few simple guidelines, your azaleas will produce lovely blooms, adding pops of color throughout your lawn.

When To Prune Azaleas

The best time to shape or trim an azalea is after the spring flowers fade away, but don’t trim any later than July. Remember, less is more when it comes to chopping hunks of beautiful azalea. Allow the plant to do its thing, and just control the size to preference. Eliminate weak, brittle sprigs that drain vibrance. Snipping these away allows for new, healthier sections to dominate.

If you prune too late in the year during late summer, fall or winter, you will cut off the flower buds for the next year and prevent the plant from blooming.

When To Prune Encore Azaleas

Like all other azaleas you should prune Encore Azaleas immediately after the spring flowering. This creates the maximum amount of buds to set. More than likely, only a light pruning is necessary to stimulate growth and flowering.

Why Prune Azaleas

In most cases, you should not need to prune azaleas. These are low maintenance plants and should produce beautiful flowers year after year. But, perhaps your beautiful azalea has overgrown to monstrous proportions and is blocking your view to the rest of your yard because the bush is too tall. Or the shrub is not producing as many flowers as it has in the past. Or sometimes azaleas become leggy and need to be rejuvenated. Pruning can improve air circulation, provide disease prevention and encourage new growth. It can also shape the plant to better fit the location it is growing in your yard.

How to Prune Azaleas

Most azaleas are just going to need a little shaping and thinning, to maintain size and health. This is easy as 1-2-3, and why azaleas and rhododendrons are considered low maintenance.

Step 1 – wait until the flowers die off in the spring to prune

Step 2 – cut off dead branches and stems from the shrub

Step 3 – prune off live stems and branches to conform the plant into your preferred shape

You can keep the plants small and cute, or have them as more of a statement shrub. Some skilled gardeners are able to trim these plants into topiaries or even grow them into a tree form by pruning.

What You’ll Need to Prune Azaleas

  • Hand Clippers—This small tool is great for controlled cutting. Be sure the blades are sharp, and clean, to prevent foliage disease spread.

  • Loopers—Bigger than hand clippers, loopers can tackle heftier stems.

  • Gloves—Pruning is hard work for your hands!

Be sure to clean your tools in between prunings to prevent the spread of diseases and to remove any sap that is on the blades.

We do not recommend using hedge trimmers to shear azaleas into boxes or other shapes. This will cause the plant to look terrible and prompt the foliage and the flowers to only exist in the outer inch of the bushes.

Pruning Leggy Azaleas

Most of the time, azaleas will only need a light trimming when they become “leggy”. Leggy essentially means that the leaves are only growing on the outer edges of the branches, and the plant does not look full or lush.
To help encourage the plant to grow thicker foliage, selective pruning of old wood is the best strategy. Pick out only a few branches per year, and cut those down to a dormant bud or lower sturdy branch. Do a few branches each year for best results. This is a slow process, but works very effectively. This should be done in the winter when the plant is dormant.

Can You Cut Back Azaleas To The Ground?

We do not recommend ever cutting an azalea shorter than 12 inches tall. If you cut back the plant all the way to the ground, you risk the plant becoming weakened by poor nutrition or disease and die. The plant may also take up to 3 years to bloom again if you cut back the shrub that much.

If you must take drastic measures, we recommend leaving 2 main branches at least 2 foot tall, and cutting back the other main branches 6 inches tall. That way there are at least a few branches that aren’t cut back all the way.

Deadheading Azaleas & Rhododendrons

Depending on the type of azaleas you have, deadheading (removing the spent blossoms) may encourage the plant to produce beautiful new flowers. If you have a deciduous azalea, then you may deadhead the flowers. If you have an evergreen azalea or rhododendron, then you typically will not deadhead the flowers.

The reason for deadheading is two-fold. First, it will help the plant look better and encourages more flowers to grow the following year. Second, the flowers will sometimes turn slimy and moldy during periods of heavy rain, possibly leading to fungal diseases.

To deadhead the flowers, you can either use your fingers and pinch off the flowers, or you can use small pruners to do the job. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. Be sure to only remove the dead flowers, not the buds from the plant.

Overall, taking care of azaleas is a snap, and they are particularly great for those with little time to work in the yard. Pruning is simple, and if you keep up with it, you’ll never have to spend too much time doing it. Then you’ll have plenty of afternoon hours to sit on your porch with a glass of lemonade, taking in the beauty.


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Azaleas are beautiful flowering shrubs popular for landscaping, but without proper pruning they can occasionally get shaggy and overgrown. Fortunately, it’s easy to keep these shrubs in top shape so they always look their very best.

About Azaleas

Azaleas are part of the plant family Ericaceae, the family that also includes rhododendrons, cranberries, huckleberries and some varieties of heaths and heathers. They are spring-blooming shrubs with a mounding shape, and because they are shade-tolerant, azaleas do well when planted beneath mature trees. These are slow-growing shrubs that prefer well-drained, somewhat acidic soil to thrive.

There are more than 10,000 cultivars of azaleas worldwide, with great variation in terms of their mature sizes. The most typical azalea colors are reds and pinks, including coral and very bright fuschia shades, but they are also found in whites, yellows, purplish hues and variegated patterns. The amount of fragrance varies among cultivars.

Azaleas are so popular that there are even festivals dedicated to these beautiful spring shrubs. While a local azalea festival may be found just about anywhere these shrubs are popular, the most festivals are held in Japan, Hong Kong and in the United States, stretching from Florida to New Jersey to Oregon to Texas, with many azalea festivals in between.

Proper Azalea Pruning

Azaleas are easy to prune, and in fact, if the shrub is planted in an area where it can reach its full growth without crowding, it may never need pruning at all. Many of these shrubs do outgrow smaller spaces, however, and pruning will be necessary to keep them contained and flowering well.

It is best to prune azaleas in late spring or early summer, after the flowers have finished blooming and are fading and wilting, but before new woody growth emerges. Pruning too late will remove next year’s buds and diminish flowers the following spring. The exception is for any damaged branches, which can be removed at any time.

Because azaleas look best with a natural sprouting, graceful shape, they should never be pruned with hedge trimmers. Instead, opt for hand pruners for shaping and a small or medium branch lopper to reach deeper into the shrub or to remove larger branches. Pruning should be kept minimal, but long straggling branches often disrupt an azalea’s form and can be removed by reaching deeply into the shrub and trimming them as short as possible. This will allow more air circulation and sunlight deeper into the plant to improve its health and minimize pests and diseases.

On rare occasions, an azalea bush will completely overgrow its space and should be heavily pruned. This involves cutting the shrub back to roughly 12 inches above the ground, removing all branches at once. Because this will be a shock to the plant, it is important to follow up with adequate fertilizing and watering to help promote new growth, which the plant will sprout from the remaining stumps. The next spring, those young suckers can be thinned out to encourage even more growth and keep the plant to an airy, natural shape and avoid too thick of a shrub.

Most importantly, formal shapes and intense shaping should be avoided with azalea bushes. When that type of heavy pruning is used, the following season’s flowering will be spotty and show many awkward gaps that will be difficult to fill in.

Pruning azaleas doesn’t have to be a challenge, and these easy-care shrubs are a favorite for all types of landscape designs. With some simple care and occasional trims, they will always look their very best.

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