Overgrown old azaleas

telx2May 26, 2010

I've been in my house in Roswell for 2 summers now and have really let a row of azaleas in the backyard go. I'd like to keep them as they are at the end of a flat area in the back and beyond them is a pretty steep down slope into the woods. However, I'd like to clean the area up a bit for some usable backyard space and currently then bushes are taller than I am and each bush is as wide as it is tall (well over 5 feet.) I know that if I wack them back now they won't bloom next spring, but I really don't care. What I would like to know is:

1 - Do you think they will survive being cut down to 2'?

2 - Will they return to this size in one season or will it take several years (in a shady spot)?

Thanks in advance for any advice anyone has!


PS - These bloom pink only in the spring and I believe they were put in when the place was built 30 years ago. Nothing fancy about these plants like encores!

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1. Yes, we used to cut ours down to a 2 ft ball every year right after they bloomed and they always came back full and lush and beautiful.
2. Probabaly..... but if not, definitely by the 2nd year.

I'd trim them soon though.


    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 6:41PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

This is a good time to cut them back. The rule is after they bloom, but before August when the buds for next year are set. You may not get as good a bloom next year, but the following year should be fine. If they are over your head, I wouldn't take them down to two feet. I think the rule of thumb is to not take off more than a third at a time. So if they are 6 feet tall, take them down 2 feet to 4 feet, then next year you can take 1/3 of that. I don't think they will put on that much growth in one year.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 8:09PM
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Thanks for the advice. Hopefully in a couple weeks I will have taken back this part of my property!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 11:57AM
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railroadrabbit(7b - Atlanta)

I cut some back that were about 30 or 40 years old. They were about 5 feet tall. I cut them back to about 2 feet tall. They looked very scraggly for about 3 years, but are finally getting leafy again.

From an interview with Parker Andes from Callaway Gardens:

Pruning to Rejuvenate

"This is probably my favorite job," said Parker. "When an azalea is way too tall or badly misshapen, if I see vigorous growth at the base, I know I can make it look ten times better in a minute or two."

He demonstrated on an old azalea that resembled a leafy umbrella standing in the woods. There were several sprouts at the base, struggling to reach the sunshine blocked by the leaves above. With three cuts, the azalea went from six feet tall to eighteen inches high.

Here is a link that might be useful: Azaleas Summer Pruning

    Bookmark   May 30, 2010 at 5:07PM
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ladywindsurfer(Z7 SE)

I have a hedge row of Kurume Azaleas on a NW street corner, that became overgrown, up to 7 ft. tall, with no foliage on the lower 4-5 ft.
Last June, I cut them down to 18", with nothing but bare stubs remaining. They are now covered with foliage and about half had numerous flowers this spring. I am expecting some flowers this fall, as they usually bloom twice each year.
During the severe freeze in January 1985, I had to cut the Southern Indicas off at ground level. All returned and grew to normal size within a few years.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 10:31AM
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