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A young garden azalea diligently sprout and reaches a considerable size over the years. Her owner does not have to be a gifted master cutter, she creates a beautiful crown all by herself. What remains are a few corrective interventions every now and then so that the annual sea of flowers takes on oceanic proportions. The cutting of the azalea must not only be limited to what is necessary, but must also be timed correctly.

cutting azaleas

Even a garden shrub that is not regularly pruned by its owner can develop into a healthy plant. This includes the garden azalea, which can live without the intervention of secateurs. It naturally forms a stable branch structure and does not require any pruning.

In addition to healthy growth, which every owner wishes for, there are also some selfish expectations. The plant should always bloom profusely and form a well-formed, dense crown. But this can sometimes only be achieved with a pruning. Whenever one of these two points is at risk or can be optimized, scissors can be used.

Remove wilted

With the garden azalea there is one pruning measure that is regularly on the agenda: the removal of withered flowers. No owner should do without this, even if he otherwise lets the azalea grow freely.

  • remove all faded flowers every year
  • immediately after flowering
  • within three weeks at the latest

The removal of the remains of the blossom interrupts the further course of nature, which now intended the formation of seeds. With the enormous number of flowers, seed formation would consume a huge amount of energy. Since the flower buds for the following year are formed at about the same time, this process can benefit from the energy saved. This is how lush flowering is achieved.

tip: The withered flower parts may enrich the compost heap, provided the azalea is in good health.

Cleaning instructions

For this activity you can safely leave the secateurs in the shed. Your own ten fingers are the best tool, as the shoots can be easily broken off. If you work with "soft" fingers, you cannot injure other parts of the plant if you touch the plant unavoidably. The new, tender buds in particular are in the immediate vicinity and are still quite sensitive and.

  1. First wash your hands thoroughly with soap so that no harmful germs from other gardening work can stick to them.
  2. Take a large enough bucket to collect faded flowers.
  3. Take the short piece of shoots below the withered blossom between your fingers.
  4. Remove the wilted inflorescence by tilting the shoot piece to the side until it breaks off.
  5. Remove all faded flowers one by one.

Since not all flowers wither at the same time, cleaning out is not to be understood as a one-off action. During the flowering period, dead plants should be pinched off at regular intervals. The advantage is also that the current bloom comes into its own, completely untroubled by withered petals.


The garden azalea needs plenty of light for its leaves and flowers. At the beginning of its life, it does not have to complain about a lack of light, provided it has been given a suitable location. However, the older an azalea gets, the larger the part of it that is no longer supplied with sufficient light. Fresh twigs and leaves keep the sun out, much like a parasol. Some suitable cutting measures ensure that light reaches these areas better again.

  • Thin out immediately after flowering
  • remove dead branches
  • Cut sparsely leafy branches
  • Tear off wild shoots close to the root neck

Regular thinning out prevents bare growth because more light enables new growth.

tip: If the azalea grows too densely, cut individual shoots back to the underlying shoot every now and then.

Waiting time for topiary

A young garden azalea needs a lot of time to conquer the ground with its roots. A pruning, however, challenges the plant growth too much and should only be accompanied by roots with a strong supply.

You should not cut a Japanese azalea for the first five years, as its root pressure is too weak for the hoped-for new growth. This renunciation is not a disadvantage, because the young azalea usually has enough space for its growth and is also well supplied with light. Their natural growth in these early years is no obstacle to a good crown structure.
Other varieties may be cut back to a third when young.

Topiary after flowering

Pruning a garden azalea can vary in size. For some owners it is enough if the azalea has a harmonious crown structure. That requires a modest cut. Other owners, on the other hand, deliberately shape their azaleas into geometric shapes, usually spherical. The Japanese azaleas in particular are easy to cut and can be designed so easily.

  • place light topiary cuts after flowering
  • remove individual branches that protrude unattractively from the crown

tip: Clippings that accumulate in summer can be used to propagate cuttings.

radical cut

If regular thinning and light topiary are not enough to achieve a beautiful, densely leafy crown, a radical pruning may be necessary. Over the years, its own foliage shades parts of the crown, which consequently lose more and more leaves. The risk of balding cannot always and not completely be intercepted with annual pruning measures.

In addition to the rejuvenation cut, the strong topiary can also be regarded as a kind of radical cut, since almost all shoots are affected by the shortening.


If your azalea needs a radical pruning, do not do it after flowering. It is better to wait until spring, when the shrub has the entire growing season ahead of it. He has enough time to recover from the cut or expel again. The accompanying weather provides the needed heat and light.

However, a radical cut also means that the following flowering season has to be cancelled. The buds have fallen victim to the scissors and will not form again for the current year.

Cut in several stages

Every cut means stress for the plant, because it has to adapt its growth to it and compensate for the "losses" as quickly as possible. So that the azalea is only challenged and not overwhelmed, the radical cut should be carefully considered. If the majority of the shoots fall victim to the scissors, the cutting measures should be spread over several years.

Instructions for radical cut

When cutting, keep an eye on the crown structure of the azalea so that the desired shape is automatically formed after it has sprouted.
For this reason, never shorten all the shoots at the same height.

  • leave young shoots
  • cut old shoots to approx. 30-40 cm
  • Remove thin side branches directly on the main shoot
  • leave a 10 cm stub from larger branches

tip: Leave the branch cones in place until the new shoots have developed strongly. The cones then usually fall off on their own or can be cut back.

Ideal cutting tool

The mostly finger-thin branches of the garden azalea can be removed most easily with rose scissors. Make sure the blades are cleaned and disinfected before cutting. For thicker branches you will need to use a saw.
The tool should also be sharpened regularly, as blunt blades cause frayed cutting surfaces. However, such cut surfaces heal poorly and are ideal gateways for harmful germs. Larger wounds should also be sealed.

stimulate branching

Removing fresh flower buds in spring can encourage branching. However, for the current garden year you have to do without flowering altogether or make do with a light version. If this doesn't happen every year, the visual loss can be tolerated in favor of a denser crown.

Care after a pruning

After a large pruning, not only do the remaining branches get more sun, the root area has also largely lost its shade. To keep this area from drying out, spread a thick layer of mulch over it.
The plant needs plenty of nutrients for new growth, which is why you should now provide it with an azalea fertilizer. Depending on the weather, water your garden azalea afterwards. The top layer of soil should never dry out completely.

tip: If you radically prune an azalea, you should not transplant it for the next two years. Otherwise, the desired new growth may not occur.

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