Pruning azaleas

Credit: ideeone/iStockphoto


Q: I have three azaleas in my garden and they have done really well this past summer. How far do I cut them back for winter?

For the most part you really need not prune azaleas. They are a plant that is relatively self-maintained. Having said that, there are times when you do need to keep them in check or prune to maintain their fullness.

Never prune the azalea in the fall or winter. Not that it will damage the plant but you’ll be pruning off all the blossoms for the following spring.

The best means of pruning an azalea would be to shear 5-10 cm (2-4 in.) lightly off the top and sides, sort of like a minor brush cut. This should only be done relatively soon after it completes its blooming cycle in the spring. From that point on it should provide you with new growth that will set flower buds for the following year. You should also consider a light mulching with peat moss annually in spring around the base of each plant.