Pruning Azalea

Trivia about the plant

The azalea does not have its own genus, but like the rhododendron it belongs to the Rhodendron family, which in turn derives from the ericarcaceae.
The name is of Greek origin and literally means "rose flower tree". In reality, the azalea is not a European plant as one may mistakenly think, but it is a flower species imported from Asian countries, such as China and Japan. Its presence in Europe dates back to the end of the seventeenth century.
1600 indicates precisely the period in which the azalea imported into our territory after having been transplanted, had its rooting path, thus giving birth to a species which then spontaneously reproduced and called "the rose of the Alps", in botany known as Rhododendron Ferrugineum.

Characteristics of the flower

The azalea is listed as one of the best floral ornament species. Its aesthetic peculiarities make the plant have a pleasant and elegant aesthetic result through its flowering, which is considered of great value in any context where the act of embellishment is required.
Its main characteristic is the chromatic versatility, that is the flower is presented in different shades. Its numerous corollas, of minute size but leafy, make that the wavy and often shaded aspect makes the azalea a particularly lively flower and adaptable to any occasion.
Another positive aspect is that the azalea is not only an ornamental flower, but also lends itself as a plant that can be placed both indoors and outdoors. On average it is used as a garden or balcony species, but it can also be displayed inside a closed environment without the plant suffering.
Its foliage is small, commonly also called deciduous.
The stem can vary from 50 to 70 cm in height. The flowers have five stamens, this aspect makes that the azalea differs from the Rhododendron, since this one on average presents flowers with ten stamens, ergo well double those of the azalea blooms.
The mainly marketable varieties are:
- Azalea Mollis, specific to Japan and China;
- the Azalea Pontica, present in any eastern area;
- the Azalea Indica, an evergreen variety with reduced dimensions and indicated as preferable indoor furniture.
It is necessary to know that the azalea is an acidophilic plant, this means that the soil in which it will be deposited must be acidic, rich in water, free or poor in limestone. The continuous irrigation of the soil allows the plant a much more lasting life, since a drought soil would not be at all compatible with the needs of the plant itself, which requires a frequent change of water constantly able to avoid dryness and dryness. Exposure is not recommended where temperatures are high, this would involve a gradual drying process that would damage the plant irreparably.

How pruning happens

Being a plant with a very slow development, it does not need a drastic or excessively regular pruning. The flowering period is the spring season, at the end of which it is appropriate to proceed with pruning.
The reason why this must happen at this precise time of the year is simple, the post-flowering phase makes it easier to identify all the flowers that have quickly withered, thus disfiguring the aesthetic appearance of the plant. Once removed, it is advisable to shorten the branches in such a way that they have the possibility of germinating quickly and making the shrub thicker.
Cyclically it is healthy to practice more consistent pruning, this allows the plant to maintain a healthy and vigorous appearance.
The shortening of the branches of the younger shrubs is advisable every 2/3 years, always in the posthumous period to flowering. Any type of azalea needs this treatment, regardless of whether the plant is exposed indoors or outdoors.
The shortening of the foliage stimulates the thickening of the shrub, which in turn if strengthened prevents over time the lower part of the plant to strip completely, thus losing that very particular and appreciated round and leafy aspect.
Plants that are no longer young, placed at home for several years, need pruning at the end of the winter period. The shrub must be shortened until its height reaches the size of 25/35 cm from the ground: this will allow the plant to regenerate and flourish, thus counteracting the aging of the entire plant.
This type of pruning delays the next flowering, since the plant in this phase is subject to the formation of new vegetation. So don't worry if your plant doesn't have flowers, it's completely normal.
Any azalea, however, requires frequent periodic cleaning, March and September, are the ideal months to remove broken branches, withered flowers and yellowed leaves.

Azalea pruning: To remember

It is appropriate that pruning is done with specific scissors suitable for the operation, scissors with a clean and decisive cut are recommended. Absolutely banish serrated knives or obsolete tongs to prevent the branches from being badly cut.