illustration of how to prune shrub
Illustration: Elizabeth Traynor
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Problem: You have a flowering evergreen shrub that's leggy at the bottom.

Do use your index finger and thumb to pinch off the end (or terminal) buds of new branches on rhododendron, azalea, Japanese pieris, mountain laurel, and other broad-leaved evergreens to encourage side branching on the lower part of the shrub. As with a heading cut, manually removing the terminal leaf bud signals a dormant bud below it to grow, stimulating lush side branching. This is also a way to control the shrub's overall size.

Don't pinch off the flower buds in the process. These are the bigger, fatter buds at the ends of branches.
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