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Guide to Pruning Azaleas in Australia

Pruning azaleas is surprisingly easy and doesn’t require a lot of expert skills or knowledge. Just remember to wait until after they’ve finished flowering.

I love growing azaleas because they’re so easy to look after and put on a fantastic floral display from late winter to spring.

In general, azaleas only need to be pruned to maintain their natural shape and to stop them from becoming too leggy.

Here’s everything you need to know about pruning azaleas in Australia.

When to prune azaleas

The best time to prune azaleas is just after they’ve finished flowering. This will usually be in late spring or early summer.

If you leave it much later than this, then you might be removing potential flowering buds and so you’ll miss out on those masses of gorgeous blooms the following year.

azaleas 1 | Plant care

Bear in mind, that it’s not necessary to prune azaleas every year. However, an overall tip prune will create a bushier plant and produce many more blooms. 

Now, there are different types of azaleas that are commonly grown in Australia. There are evergreen varieties such as the Indica hybrids and the Kurume hybrids. These varieties don’t lose their leaves.

Then there are the Mollis azaleas which are deciduous and will lose their leaves in early summer, so you end up with bare stems but masses of flowers.

Mollis azaleas | Plant care

These varieties are better suited to colder areas and are best planted in part shade.

Both evergreen and deciduous azaleas should be pruned just after they’ve finished flowering. This usually occurs around November, making this the ideal time to prune them.

How to prune azaleas

Pruning azaleas is surprisingly easy and doesn’t require a lot of expert skills or knowledge.

Here’s all that you have to do:

Pruning evergreen azaleas

Remember to only prune your azalea after it has finished flowering. With an evergreen azalea, all you have to do is remove any dead branches and then tip-prune it to retain a nice shape.

pruning azaleas | Plant care

Whenever you’re pruning an azalea, make sure that you cut back to just above a developing bud. This will ensure that you’ll have new growth from where you made the cut. However, if you don’t see any developing buds, it’s fine to just clip the stems back as azaleas have the ability to grow new shoots from nearly anywhere along the stems.

Evergreen azaleas are also great for pruning into shapes and they respond very well to this. This makes them ideal for hedging and some growers even shape them into balls or domes. However, this will take just a little more skill.

Pruning deciduous azaleas

Once again, you want to wait until it has finished flowering before you prune your deciduous azalea. All you really want to do with these types of azaleas is remove any old, dead or declining branches. Cut these back to healthy wood.

How to rejuvenate an overgrown azalea

If you’ve just moved into a new home and have inherited an old overgrown azalea or you’ve neglected one that you planted years ago, it’s really easy to rejuvenate it to bring it back to its former glory.

pruning azaleas 1 | Plant care

You want to do this in stages in order to avoid pruning shock. Here’s what to do.

  • For the first stage, remove around one-third of the plant by cutting branches right down to the base of the stem. This will help to create a better shape and your plant won’t look as overcrowded.
  • As you do this, take a step back often so that you keep your plant in balance all the way around.
  • Ideally, you want to wait until the following spring after the plant has finished flowering, to give it the next prune. At this stage, the plant will have put on a lot of new growth and all you have to do is just give it a general tidy-up to create a nicely shaped plant.
azaleas | Plant care

FAQ

Can you hard prune an azalea?

If your azalea has become overgrown and leggy, giving it a hard prune is the best way to rejuvenate it. This should be done in late spring after the plant has finished flowering.

How do you make azaleas bushier?

The easiest way to make your azalea bushier is to give it an all-over tip prune in late spring after it has finished flowering. You can even remove some of the overgrown bare branches and it will recover well.

What does Epsom salts do for azaleas?

Epsom salts are used to provide azaleas with the necessary magnesium that they need. This will help to promote better blooming and help to keep your plants nice and healthy.

Do azaleas like Seasol?

Seasol is a beneficial tonic that azaleas will love. It helps to condition the soil which, in turn, promotes nice healthy root growth. You can even feed your azaleas with Seasol Powerfeed which contains all the nutrients that your plants will need for healthy growth and abundant blooming.

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Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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