Pruning your azaleas gives new sprouts the space they need to grow

Large, stately azaleas can be a thing of beauty in a well-established landscape. While nothing lasts forever, you can, with a bit of ingenuity and pruning, help restore your beloved azaleas.

Your first step should be to prune out decaying and dead branches and limbs back to the ground. Next, identify some of the oldest (largest) shoots - up to a third of them - and prune them back to the ground. This will give new sprouts room to grow as well as open the plant up to better circulation.

Large, stately azaleas can be a thing of beauty in a well-established landscape. While nothing lasts forever, you can, with a bit of ingenuity and pruning, help restore your beloved azaleas.

Your first step should be to prune out decaying and dead branches and limbs back to the ground. Next, identify some of the oldest (largest) shoots - up to a third of them - and prune them back to the ground. This will give new sprouts room to grow as well as open the plant up to better circulation.

To help prevent diseases from entering the cut portions, you could apply a natural copper fungicide at the site of the cut. If your azaleas have finished their spring bloom, now would also be a good time to prune them back by no more than a third of the height of the plants. Also, check your soil pH. Azaleas prefer an acidic soil with a pH of 4.5-5.5. Adding organic matter and mulch will help maintain a more acid soil, as will applications of an azalea/camellia fertilizer in spring, summer and early fall.

By the way, for all of our readers with azaleas in need of pruning, after bloom is the prime time to prune - and don't prune
later than the first part of July. This will assure adequate time for bud set for next year's bloom.

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