newbie with question on pruning azaleas

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I recently moved to a 20+ year old townhouse with a very neglected yard.
Some of the rhodos and azaleas (I have about ten) are bare and leggy and in dire need of severe pruning. Most of the stuff I've read about pruning them talks about shaping, but mine need a lot more than that.
I'm considering taking off about 50% of the branches this year and repeating that next year but I've no experience with these plants and wonder if this is too much. All comments welcomed!
emerald
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You can go ahead and prune them way back. You may not have any blooms next year, but don't worry about it. Pruning and fertilizing of azaleas should be done once they have finished blooming in the spring. Once you prune them back, they will fill out with more dense branching, but may not bloom. You'll be doing them a favor and getting fuller bushes for the future.
Good luck.
Penny Zone 7 - North Carolina

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emerald wrote:

Most would advise to only prune severely one third every year for three years.
--
Travis in Shoreline Washington where the Rhododendron is the state flower.

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I live in Florida. I have cut 5 foot high azaleas down to 2 feet, with no problems whatsoever. The prior comment that you may not get blooms next cycle is correct, but the plants will come out real strong and more robost and thick.
Good Luck !!
--James--
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emerald wrote:

I prune my azaleas about once every three years. I did it this year, cutting each plant just as the last flower faded. In a few cases, I started on one side of a plant while flowers still bloomed on the other side. I took shrubs over 3 ft tall and reduced them to 1 ft, mostly to bare branches. As soon as they were pruned, I fed them with a commercial azalea and camellia food. They are already throwing new shoots.
These are evergreen azaleas (southern indica?). From past performance, I expect them to bloom next spring.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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Well after having some very badly neglect azaleas myself that were as tall as my house and taller, I just knew I had to do somehting with them so I could get sunlight back in my house and see out of the windows. I cut them way back to well below bottom of the window heights, and other than not having as many or no blooms the next year they came out great. They are nicer and much fuller now. IMHO its pretty hard to kill a well established azalea by pruning. Their old and new wood is full of buds that will push out and give new stems when wood or limbs are cut off. The pruning will stimulate them to erupt and start new.
I had gone by the 1/3 rule but soon found on azaleas its virtually impossible to harm them and other than having scragly looking plants for a period of time they will do fine. Visit my website: http://www.frugalmachinist.com Opinions expressed are those of my wifes, I had no input whatsoever. Remove "nospam" from email addy.
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