Annuals are all in. Gutters are cleaned. Now, after the usual enormous flush of Spring growth, it’s time to start pruning. With just a few exceptions, previously sheared hedges being an obvious one, we do all our pruning by hand. This takes extra time but it’s worth it. It allows us to apply different techniques and styles to different plants as needed. Let’s use Azaleas as an example. Now is the correct time to prune them as their flowers have faded and they are just starting to put new growth out and it is this growth that will set buds for next years’ flowers. So get your pruning done now so that next years’ flowers are not affected.
The first thing we do when pruning Azaleas is to remove umbrella shoots. Umbrella shoots tend to make your Azalea tall and leggy. They are easy to spot as their bare stems rise above the existing plant and have leaf growth swirling about the tip. This gives them the look of an umbrella. These shoots should be removed down to the branch they originate from. Make a clean cut leaving just a sliver of shoot on the branch you are cutting from. This allows the cut to heal properly and quickly which is key in any plant to protecting against entry by disease organisms.
If you need to lower the height of the plant or just reduce the size overall, repeat the above process removing the prior years’ shoots. This style of pruning will leave your Azalea looking natural and not sheared.