Spring pruning of a Satsuki azalea, ‘Kinsai’

This year’s blooming was spectacular. The blooms covered the entire tree, they were a deep red, and due to selective pruning over the last few years, only a few flowers of the “mother variety”. Here is the show.

And when the blooms begin to fade, it’s time to cut them off.

I used those small red-handled defoliating scissors, hinged at the base to spring back open, making the job a bit easier. And, starting from the top and working my way down, the flowers were trimmed off.

But when I get to the reverted, mother variety flowers, it’s important to remove more than just the bud. The entire shoot or branch needs to go, to prevent their flowers from taking over the tree. Kinsai are adored for the deep red, thin petal flowers. Here is an example of the mother variety flower:

Here is another example where 3 shoots emerge, 2 reverted and one hasn’t. So I can trim back the two, and leave the third.

And I throw these away so I don’t accidentally strike cuttings from these shoots. My luck, those would be the ones to root.

Money shot with all flowers removed.

Next up is pruning. As azalea twigs age, they constrict and weaken, so it is important to cut hard and replace old with new, always renewing the tree and keeping it young.

Interior twigs that have died are removed.

After the first round of pruning:

Next up, just a little wiring to spread out branches and fill in some of the voids.

Since I mentioned cuttings, so far I haven’t had much luck with them. Maybe a 10% strike rate so far, but I decided to try again. This time, I struck 44 cuttings, so let’s see next year how many, if any, remain.

The left tray is all Kinsai, the right tray has Kinsai on the bottom, and another cultivar at the top…the name is lost, but I suspect it is ‘Matsunami’.

A night shot a few days later.

4 thoughts on “Spring pruning of a Satsuki azalea, ‘Kinsai’

  1. This is an amazing bonsai, Brian. Not sure I could strip all those flowers as they look so pretty. Is it really essential or could the pruning be done a little later?

  2. LOVED READING THIS ARTICLE. I have acquired three Kinsai Azaleas and this being my 2nd rar with them they are starting to bloom,very pretty. going to dig them out of their grow bed and plant them in their lifetime pots.

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