What you Need for Pruning Azaleas

Flowering azaleas adorn the gardens with stunning beauty and bright colors every spring. These hardy shrubs can grow up to eight feet and are easy to care for once established. However, keeping them shaped and trimmed would allow the air to circulate, prevent diseases, and aid overall health. 

Follow the simple guidelines in this article for pruning azaleas correctly and keep them blooming every year.

pruning azaleas

When to Prune the Azaleas

Usually, azaleas are relatively low-maintenance shrubs and need no pruning. They can produce beautiful flowers every season. However, if your azalea is oversized and you need to trim it down, it might need a little pruning. Knowing the best time to prune it will keep your shrub healthy and thriving every year. You might also want to consider pruning if your azalea isn’t blooming well and produces fewer flowers.

The best time to prune azaleas is to do so after spring or within the three weeks they stop blooming once the flowers fade away or shrivel. Make sure not to trim them any later than July. Pruning azaleas late in the summer, autumn, or winter will cut off the flower buds, adversely affecting next year’s bloom. While pruning, don’t chop big chunks of the shrub and maintain its size by removing brittle sprigs so that new sections can take place.

Most azaleas need a little trimming for maintenance. The best way is to cut off any dead stems and branches and then gently prune the live stems to attain your desired shape. If your azalea has overgrown to a large size, you can cut it down with loppers to about one foot without resulting in any long-term damage to it. Azalea branches can sometimes develop fungus, damaging the leaves and branches. To prevent the spread of the fungus, prune back your azalea until you see white-colored wood.

For maintenance pruning, use clippers to remove long stray shoots next to larger woody branches. Doing this will even out the foliage and make room for air and sunlight movement in the center, which helps in healthy growth. Also, cut back any large or thick branches with loppers to create a mounding shape.

Before pruning, ensure that your tools have sharp and clean blades.

pruning azaleas

What you Need for Pruning Azaleas

To prune azaleas, you’ll need tools like hand pruners and loppers. If you don’t have one already, you’ll also need a pair of gloves and disinfecting tools. It’s not a good idea to use hedge trimmers to shear azaleas into shapes, such as boxes or squares. Because the way the branches continue to grow doesn’t help in retaining the shapes, and as a result, the shrub will look bizarre. Also, it causes the flowers to grow only in the bush’s outer inch. Electric hedge clippers will result in the growth of small and twiggy branches with sparse foliage. It’s best to use hand trimmers to give the shrub a soft, mounded shape.   

Let’s learn more about the tools below and where to buy them.

1) Pruning Shears or Hand-Clippers

If you want a small tool for controlled pruning, pruning shears or hand clippers are a great option. Gardeners use secateurs (hand pruners) almost every day in gardening. If you’re making your first purchase of this tool, it’s a good idea to consider a few things before doing so, such as the type of pruning you’re going to perform, the size of your plants, your operating style (anvil, ratchet, or bypass), and the length of your hands or your strength. You can find pruners of different sizes, grip designs, and left or right-handed actions.  

Below are our top picks for the best pruners.

Best Overall: Fiskars Bypass Pruning Shears

  • All-steel design
  • Sharp and clean cuts up to 5/8” in diameter
  • Non-slip grip handle
  • Ergonomic
  • Rated 4 stars or above by 93% of 34,600+ Amazon reviewers
  • More expensive than other brands
  • Ideal for stems and light branches


  • ByPass Blade Design
  • Non-stick, Low-friction Coating
  • Durable
  • Self-cleaning Sap Groove

Best for Tired/Arthritic Hands: VIVOSUN Hand Pruning Shears

  • Reduced hand-strain
  • Ultra-sharp blades
  • Safe locking
  • Mechanism
  • Comfy grip
  • Ergonomic
  • Precise cuts
  • For trimming and shaping small plants
  • Doesn’t have a self-cleaning sap groove


  • Available in bright colors
  • Curved blades
  • Stainless steel handle material
  • Titanium-coated

Best for Lefties: Felco F-10 Pruning Shears

  • For left, large hands
  • Ultra-durable
  • Ergonomic
  • Precise cuts
  • Easy to use
  • Rated 4 stars or above by 96% of 15,000+ Amazon reviewers
  • Expensive


  • Handles made of forged aluminum
  • Anvil blade made of hardened steel
  • Revolving handle
  • Phthalate-free non-slip handle
  • Features a sap groove and a wire-cutter

2) Long-handled Loppers

Loppers are great tools for efficiently pruning trees. Unlike hand pruners, you can prune thicker branches with loppers up to two or three inches. You can find a wide array of loppers for home landscaping projects online. Usually, loppers can be grouped into two types based on their blades: anvil or bypass. The blade material can be stainless steel or carbon steel or have a titanium or Teflon coating. It’s a good idea to buy a lopper, depending on your strength and cutting needs.

Here are our top picks for the best loppers available online.

Best Overall: Fiskars Garden Loppers

  • Sharp blades
  • Cuts thick branches
  • Easy grip
  • Ergonomic
  • Bang for the buck
  • Rated 4 stars or above by 96% of 8,500+ Amazon reviewers
  • No safety locks


  • Non-stick coating
  • All-steel design
  • Bypass blade design
  • Shock absorbing bumpers

Best Heavy-duty: Kings County Tools Double Ratcheting Anvil Lopper

  • Extendable handles
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Cutting jaw capacity of 2 to 2.5 inches
  • Sharp cutting edge
  • Four-stop ratcheting action
  • Locking lever
  • Can be heavy
  • Less cushioning on the grips


  • Blade made of alloy steel
  • Telescoping handles
  • Cuts dry wood
  • Sliding handle extensions

Best Compact: Tabor Tools GB19A Anvil Lopper

  • Lightweight
  • Ergonomic
  • Strong aluminum handles
  • Easy-to-carry
  • Not suitable for cutting over 1 1/2” branches


  • Aluminum handles with comfortable grips
  • Sharp blades with a curved anvil
  • Compound action, power gear technology
  • Lightweight (19 inches)

For an affordable combo pack, check out our pick for the Best Pruner-Lopper Value Pack: Melnor Pruner & Lopper Value Set


3) Gloves

Pruning can be rough on your hands, and gardening gloves protect them from blisters, scratches, cuts, and splinters.

Check out these pruning secateurs combo packs that include gardening gloves.

Wevove 3 Pack Garden Pruning Shears with Gardening Gloves

  • Three types of pruning shears (straight blade, serrated blade, and curved blade)
  • Safety lock
  • Ergonomic design
  • Grip latex coating on the gloves
  • Value for money
  • Not the finest quality available

Topbooc 5 Pack Garden Pruning Shears with Gardening Gloves

  • Stainless steel shears (straight blade, serrated blade, and curved blade)
  • Safety lock
  • Ergonomic design
  • Convenient & durable
  • Soft rubber handle
  • Waterproof & breathable gloves
  • Not the finest quality available

4) Disinfecting Tools  

Keeping your tools clean and sharp is essential to prevent foliage disease spread. Once you’re done pruning, clean the tools and remove any sap on the blades. After pruning any diseased branches, wiping the shears with diluted bleach is an excellent idea to prevent the spread of disease to healthy parts of the tree. You can make a household disinfecting spray or buy bleach or rubbing alcohol to keep your tools clean.

What Type of Azaleas to Prune

Knowing your plant type will help determine the pruning frequency or if they need it. There are two main groups of azaleas – native and Asian– belonging to the rhododendron family. The native azalea, known by some as the “honeysuckle,” has a vine-like growth and doesn’t require much pruning. Asian azalea is of the evergreen variety and consists of two popular groups – Kurume hybrids and Southern Indian hybrids.

Kurume hybrids are bright red with small, glossy leaves and don’t grow larger than three to four feet. They might not need pruning at all, and if they do, you can give them some maintenance pruning once in 4-5 years. Some popular varieties are Coral Bells, Hershey’s Red, and Hino Crimson. Southern Indian hybrids grow rapidly and are larger than the Kurumes but not as dense. They can use regular pruning, especially if you’re worried about it occupying extra space. Some popular varieties are Formosa (purple), George Taber (pink), and Mrs. G.G. Gerbing (white).

Furthermore, if your Southern Indian azalea is overgrown, it could use some drastic pruning. Shaping it and drastically trimming it back won’t cause it harm. You can cut back the individual branches to give a rounded shape on top. Use loppers or a hand saw to do so. Once you’ve pruned it, use a water-soluble, slow-release fertilizer (12-6-6) to feed the azalea and keep it healthy and thriving. Water it regularly and watch the beautiful leaves and flowers bloom in the spring.

pruning azaleas


Pruning improves the airflow between the branches and keeps your tree rejuvenated. It also prevents diseases (like powdery mildew), encourages new growth, and aids in shaping it to fit your space perfectly. To conclude, the hardy azaleas might not need much maintenance, but if you prune them correctly, if and when needed, they will give gorgeous, colorful blooms every year. Pruning them once every three to four years will ensure your azalea remains in great shape and blooms every season.

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Ekta is currently living in Vancouver Island, Canada, famous for its natural beauty and gardens. Originally from India, she has also studied and worked in Scotland and England. She admires flowers and floral arrangements and loves to travel and spend time with nature.

She’s currently exploring the world of bonsais and is looking forward to growing a red maple and a rose bonsai. In her opinion, empathy is an important trait in understanding our surroundings and making the world a better place; and thus, it’s essential to keep an open mind to things and have a learner’s perspective.

She also likes spending time with dogs and has an inclination for creativity. Writing, to her, is a good mental exercise and a great way to inspire new ideas in the minds of readers.




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