Our azaleas are too large and need to be trimmed. When is the best time to prune them?
In general, azaleas rarely need pruning, but if you find you need to reduce the size of the shrubs, the best time to prune them is right after they finish blooming. The buds for this year’s azalea blooms began forming last summer, so if you prune now, before they bloom, it means you are cutting off many of the flowers before you have a chance to enjoy them.
Southern Living garden writer Steve Bender, who edited the new edition of the Southern Living Garden Book, suggests this method for pruning azaleas: determine where the height or width needs to be reduced. Then, using hand pruners (or loppers, if the branches are thick), reach in and cut back individual branches to different lengths to create a mounding shape. Do not, he admonishes, use hedge trimmers to shear azaleas. Besides looking boxy and unnatural, this results in flowers and foliage that grow only on the outer portions of the shrubs.
Two other notes from Steve’s advice, which you can read here:
-If you do the job at the proper time, you can cut evergreen azaleas back pretty hard – even back to bare wood — and they should survive and flourish.
-If yours are the ‘Encore’ type of azaleas, which bloom in spring and again in late summer or fall, prune right after the spring bloom.