Azaleas are a great choice when it comes to beautifying your lawn or garden. Not only are they great ornamental plants, but the best part about growing them is that they aren’t difficult to maintain. This makes it possible for absolutely anyone to grow them. In addition, because they can survive in USDA hardiness zones 7 to 9, they can grow in various locations provided that the temperature and climate aren’t extreme.
In this article, I’ll be discussing several tips on how the best gardeners prune their azaleas to get the bright and colorful form that makes them attractive to viewers.
When Should You Prune Your Azalea?
It all boils down to timing. When pruning azaleas, timing is of the essence. When you prune, your azaleas would determine whether or not you will get any flowers to come blooming season. The most suitable time to prune your azaleas is when the blossoms fade. Prune the azaleas before new blossoms begin to form, which will allow you to determine how and where they’ll form. This period usually falls around early to late summer and shouldn’t exceed mid-summer.
What Do You Need When Pruning Azaleas?
To ensure that you do a good job and avoid any injuries/hazards, you will need the proper equipment and attire. You’ll also need to properly sanitize and clean all tools to prevent the transfer of diseases, bacteria, or pathogens when pruning. Here are some tools that you’ll require:
Hand Clippers: You will need hand clippers to help with the pruning. They are smaller than shears and will afford you a greater degree of control when pruning. They won’t be effective against branches, though, and for that, you will need a pair of loppers.
Loppers: With loppers, you can attack bigger branches and stems of the azaleas.
Gloves: You will need a pair of gloves to help protect your hands. To make sure this is effective, you will need to wear long-sleeved shirts. This will help protect your hands and fingers together while you are pruning your azaleas.
Good to Read : Types of Garden Tools and Their Uses
Pruning Your Azaleas Japanese Style
When it comes to pruning your Azaleas’ Japanese style, we’re talking about keeping your azaleas looking like the Japanese variant. Most azaleas can be pruned this way except for the encore azaleas. Depending on what you’re looking to achieve, there are two main ways to prune a Japanese azalea style. They are:
Pruning for Annual Maintenance
Japanese azaleas are evergreen and beautiful all year long, and other azaleas can achieve this. To ensure your azaleas can achieve this, you will need to ensure you maintain them annually. Depending on the variety of the azaleas, you may have to use different methods for maintenance as other azaleas grow differently.
Remove Dead Stems: Dead stems will hinder new growth and need to be removed if your azaleas remain evergreen. Azaleas can survive so much in harsh weather, but not all stems will make it out healthy. When this happens, you should cut off the most affected stems to make room for them to be replaced. Your hand clippers will be most effective in doing this, allowing you to cut off the stem without worrying about damaging other parts of the tree. You want to leave as little a scar as possible to reduce the opportunity for bacteria and infections to the azalea.
Trim the bushes: Once the blooming season passes, the flower will begin to die, and once this happens, it is an indication that you can start pruning. As this season only occurs once a year, it will serve as an annual process. Reduce the height and shape the branches to your desire with your hand clippers. Don’t just make random cuts, as you may end up creating regions where no growth will occur in the future.
Pruning should end after three weeks: Pruning for extended periods isn’t advised as you will damage the azalea permanently. The ideal window lasts about three weeks, after which Pruning isn’t recommended. In the event you miss this window, it isn’t advised that you prune afterward.
Not all azaleas need this much effort. Most azalea species will be fine with just a little light pruning. Rarely do azaleas need this much effort, but if you happen to have an azalea species that requires this much attention, then you will need to:
Plan for your Pruning: If azaleas have grown out of hand and are now covering unnecessary areas, you will need heavy Pruning. If you start cutting without any plan in mind, you may ruin your azalea. Firstly, have a defined idea of what you want to turn your azalea before cutting it.
Lower the branches: You can safely reduce each branch to as low as 2 feet (0.61m) from its origin in terms of length. Using this as a guide for your planning, you can establish the right shape for your azalea. For this type of Pruning, you can use either a looper or hand cutter or a combination of both; either way, you should get the desired result.
Fertilize the azalea: After such heavy trimming, the azalea will be weak and may have trouble growing and replacing the cut-off branches or growing out of the established boundaries. For the plant to be fresh, remain healthy, and grow back to its evergreen state, it will need a little help. First, supplement the soil of the potted azalea with a slow-release which usually comes in the ratio of 12:6:6.
After fertilizing, you will need to water the azalea throughout the growing season continuously, and by the following blooming season, you should have a fully fertile azalea.
Proper spacing when Pruning is essential and will often be the key between a barren blooming season and a full one. After pruning, ensure your azalea has enough time to heal before the next blooming season. Then, with the right combination, your azalea will be evergreen all year long.
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