Pruning Azaleas

Millie Davenport, 
Home & Garden Information Center

Now is the time to prune and fertilize azaleas. Azaleas form flower buds on the previous season’s growth.  Prune azaleas within 30 days after flowering ends to prevent the removal of developing flower buds and encourage a full flower display next year. At this time of the year it is best to use thinning cuts (removal of branches back to the main trunk or another branch). Thinning cuts can be used to remove leggy branches, damaged or diseased wood, and reduce plant size. When pruning, do not remove more than one-third of the branches at a time. After pruning is complete it’s a good time to fertilize. If a soil test has not been done, use a 12-4-8 slow release fertilizer at a rate of 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. This translates to 2.5 pounds (or 5 cups) per 300 sq. ft.  Spread the fertilizer evenly around the root zone being careful not to get it on the foliage. Once the fertilizer is applied, water it in to make it available to the azaleas. For more information on growing azaleas, see HGIC 1059, Azalea Care.

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