Pruning azalea knuckles

Kanorin

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By knuckle I mean a spot where 6+ branches all emerged from a node. (See below)
Obviously the best course of action is to never let these knuckles develop in the first place, but assuming that’s no longer an option, how would you prune a knuckle where you want to keep 1 or 2 shoots out of 6+?

would you do it similar to maples where you first prune back the unwanted shoots to stubs and come back and cut deeper with knob cutters a month or few later?
 

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Good question…. Of course these wheel spoke hubs are a true pain.

First get rid of the knob cutters, they will cut into the trunk, something you never do with azaleas.

One solution, the very best, is to cut back drastically and start from the remaining clean trunk (s) below the wheel spokes, developing ramification over time.

The result of the operation described below may yield less then satisfactory aesthetic and heath results and would best be done in stages, a branch at a time.

This just might avoid the issue of impinging on the sap line of remaining branches, causing due back. But it’s gonna be really complicated if you are proposing to remove multiple branches and or two tiers of wheel spoke branches to boot …. One a top the other. Not even sure that can be successfully done….

To remove each branch, use your diagonal pruners, or if you have them, very sharp root cutters and slice about 1/2 - 1/4” from the trunk, outside the collar, cut paste and come back later. Then cut closer and follow up with really sharp chisels to very carefully shave the stub off - flush to the trunk, cut paste and you are good.

Azalea wood is very hard, so be careful.

An inexpensive book that Jonas used to stock at Bonsai Tonight, Japanese Satsuki Bonsai, shows and explains this operation very well. I’d recommend getting a copy.

Cheers
DSD sends
 

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