I feel like I want to cut it back HARD, but is that too much.

Mapleminx

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So,
My Satsuki Azalea is finally done with flowering and although I have trimmed it back a bit…it’s looking a little bit leggy inside. I feel like I really want to trim it back HARD but I’m a bit apprehensive. Should I leave it be and see how backbudding goes with what I have done so far…or do I get in there and cut it back further? There is still not much light getting into the middle.
I’m kinda worried about either doing too much…or not enough.

E4075730-A58F-45E9-8C4B-667B4F2DA426.jpegCDCF26F0-6E49-41AC-9068-088ACBEDC2EB.jpegE824DB40-F23D-4F84-956E-24DB9432F3F4.jpeg

numerous opinions welcomed! 😂😂😂
 

River's Edge

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The approach I prefer is as follows.
Reduce to two shoots at each whorl, take off the upwards and downward shoots as first choices to remove.
Reduce leaves to two on each shoot. Take off the largest and oldest leaves. This will thin out and let lots of light in.
Then you can make editing choices to cut back for shape and design.
 

River's Edge

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Here is a snapshot of one of my Azalea after thinning and then the following spring showing recovery and flowering.
With a consistent approach the interior continues to bud allowing one to prune back over the years and retain form.
IMG_1173.JPGIMG_1095.jpeg
 

Forsoothe!

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This seems awful late in the season to finish flowering. If it was June, you could defoliate entirely and at that point do the hard chopping as above. It's a lot easier to see the whole thing and make choices when bare. But, since it's so late in the growing season I'm not sure defoliation is a good idea. Others may have experience here. It has great architectural!
 

leatherback

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If you prune hard now, you will probably not have flowers next years.
Leaving it now, means you can let it start to flower next year, and trim back earlier in the year.

You can trim azalea as short as you want: A healthy azalea will pop new branches all-over after a good prune.
 

River's Edge

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And the timing is important to take into account the amount you wish to remove. Too much will delay recovery and flowering as noted above. For this time of year in zone 8 , a lesser amount is a better choice. You noted yours was finally done with flowering so the timing is suitable in your location. The timing in Japan is not as important as your own location.
 

Mapleminx

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Thanks everyone, @Deep Sea Diver has echoed the same. Guess I will hold off on too much choppy choppy but I have thinned it out as much as I can without completely defoliating it.
 
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