Azaleas are very tough so after they bloom and after the new leaves have flushed out, it’s time to prune in your area. In the Washington, DC area, the time is now – late June.
Find a joint where there are too many branches (see below). Make a diagonal cut with the longer side of the cut on the side where you’d like new growth to appear or continue growing. This joint has many other branches growing vertically which can be encouraged to grow upward rather than sideways. Azaleas can take very hard pruning. It’s very hard to make a mistake with Azaleas (a type of Rhododendron).
Here (below) is the “after” view of the joint with the new cut. This is a good, clean cut outside the branch collar. The long horizontal branch that was there before is no longer crossing into the shrub. Growth is encouraged to grow up and outwards allowing light and air into the interior of the shrub!
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