Some are wild. Twenty-four species of rhododendron are native to North America. I live in hardiness zone 4b. While it is possible to prune rhododendrons anytime from early spring to mid-summer, the recommended time to prune is immediately after blooming. About Rejuvenation Pruning. Pruning may be beneficial but probably won’t solve the problem. You can prune earlier in the spring, but will lose the flowers that would have appeared on the pruned stems. Others that sprout abundantly should not be opened excessively to light. Pruning of hardened wood can be done at any time except during periods of freezing weather. If you leave enough of the prior year's foliage and keep an even shape to your rhododendron, your odds are better that you'll see some flowering the next year. How to Prune To develop a good structure on young rhododendrons, we tip prune them for their first five years. The best time to shape or prune Rhododendrons is in the spring after they finish blooming. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals. It can be done with a snapping action of thumb and finger. Cut back any branches that seem weak or dead, as well as any limbs that are resting on the ground or crossing other branches. They far exceed the dimensions you saw on the label when you bought it and probably used when calculating where to place it. Step 1: When to Prune. Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →, “Rhododendron Basics,” by Harold E. Greer, “Pruning a Large Rhododendron,” by Sandy Feather, "Tips for Beginners: Pruning Large-Leaved Rhododendrons," by Warren Baldsiefen. They are simply ‘dead-headed’ right after flowering. Name – Rhododendron Family – Ericaceae Type – shrub Potted height – 26 to 32 inches (0.6 to 0.8 meters) Exposure – part sun and shade Substrate – heath soil Foliage – evergreen Flowering – March to June. If I were to put the effort into cutting back a rhododendron, I would have left only about five stout canes, and not branched with all those stubs. After the plant is ten years old, we would not recommend this type of pruning … Rhododendrons are nice shrubs perfectly suited to being grown in pots. Most rhododendrons respond well to pruning. Rhododendrons and azaleas set next year's flower buds by mid to late summer. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. To remove old flower trusses on rhododendrons, use a pruning shear to snip the truss at its base, about 1/2 inch above the emerging flush of new growth. Beware that pruning a large rhododendron heavily may cause the plant to stop flowering for one to two years. You can continue this practice and will be rewarded with plants that have increased branching, and thus more flowers. In the future, when your rhododendron approaches the size you want, make a habit of pruning your shrub modestly after it blooms to restrain its development, shortening one branch out of three annually. We only cut them back if it is the only option, and there are too many of them to can into larger sizes. If your large rhododendron is growing out of control and starting to look like a mess, you’ve got some pruning to do. Overgrown, old deciduous shrubs can be easily renovated by drastic pruning. Key Potted Rhododendron facts. ( Log Out /  You mention wrapping your rhododendron up for the winter, but that probably isn’t necessary. Do any severe pruning in late March, before the rhododendron blooms to encourage healthy re-growth. Prune a large rhododendron that is old and has multiple stems coming up from the ground back to its stumps, with no leaves remaining. "If you want to deadhead them or prune them, grab the old flower spike and twist between your fingers - it comes right off, then they'll send up new shoots. Doing this will improve air circulation in and around the plant. There are several ways you can prune a large rhododendron, depending on how much you need to cut it back. Follow these tips to prune your rhododendrons effectively. Some that do not sprout readily from old wood cannot be much improved. A: Rhododendrons are usually pruned in the spring, right after blooming. The most common type of pruning is maintenance pruning, which simply involves the removal of spent flowers and old, dead wood. And it may well not bloom abundantly until the third year either. (Few gardeners seem to know that the dimensions given on a rhododendron label don’t indicate its final size, but rather its dimensions after 10 years of growth. Prune just above the growth joints using hand-held pruning shears. Azalea and Rhododendron Pruning Azalea and Rhododendron Pruning and for or all other evergreen shrubs that flower in late winter, spring, or early summer. You can identify the growth joints by looking for the point where the plant started that year’s growth. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. That pruning should have been more selective. Look for any branches that are growing inward. Some folks just grasp the stem with their thumb and forefinger and snap the truss from the plant. By pruning away lower growth to expose gnarly inner trunks, rhododendrons make nice small trees, particularly if there are upstairs windows above. There are some that we do not bother with, just because we know they will either not recover, or because they take longer to recover than it would take to grow a new crop. It is too close to the walkway. The easiest style of pruning is trimming off any dead or dying parts of your rhododendron with pruning shears. Don’t use hedge shears. If your large rhododendron is growing out of control and starting to look like a mess, you’ve got some pruning to do. Don’t cut a hybrid rhododendron down to the ground. Maintenance pruning is the easiest type of prun-ing and is the only one that needs to be done every year. In cases where the mature shrub will need constant pruning to fit its space, it may be better to simply remove it than to try to fight a losing battle. Pruning old rhododendrons presents a different problem. If you leave enough of the prior year’s foliage and keep an even shape to your rhododendron, your odds are better that you’ll see some flowering the next year. Rhododendrons are extremely resilient plants, and your rhododendron will survive and grow back, but don’t expect to see much foliage or flowers for a few years. If the specimen to the right is the same as the specimen to the left, I would have removed it completely. If we answered the above questions we should have some feel for problems or potential problems beyond pruning needs. Honeyheart Posts: 39. You should prune the rhododendron before the buds form so you don’t lop off the following year’s flowers. Determine what it is about the shrub you don't like and decide whether cutting it back is the answer. Rhododendron before pruning. The 1 st thing you want to do is prune any branches that are sticking out of the outline profile of the plant. Change ). Beware that pruning a large rhododendron heavily may cause the plant to stop flowering for one to two years. Fairygirl west central Scotland Posts: 35,203. This is better than pruning right at the outline of the profile of the plant. Over time, a rhododendron that isn't properly maintained will become … Actually, because they are stock plants that provide cuttings rather than bloom, some get pruned rather aggressively every few years or so, and some even get pollarded or coppiced. That way, you can keep it at a more acceptable size even as you enjoy an abundance of flowers each year. Dead leaves will look yellow or brown, and dead branches will be crispy and snap easily. Your rhododendron certainly wouldn’t reach such a large size if it weren’t well adapted! In general, rhododendrons require little pruning. Pruning large rhododendrons can seem like an overwhelming undertaking, but it doesn’t need to be. Rhododendrons can be pruned easily and very effectively. Sarah Terry brings over 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters and a plethora of how-to articles. Prune your large rhododendron right after it finishes blooming. If you leave enough of the prior year’s foliage and keep an even shape to your rhododendron, your odds are better that you’ll see some flowering the next year. First, the ideal time to do undertake rejuvenation pruning is not after flowering (that’s when you do light pruning), but rather early in the spring, before the start of the growing season. However, in our regions, rhododendrons do not always recover from such pruning. Fortunately, yes, you can cut an overgrown rhododendron back quite severely and thus reduce it to a more acceptable size. Photo: Oh Kaye, flickr.com. In fact, the American Rhododendron Society recommends trimming the bush to control its size, if you want to pick the flowers for an arrangement or to remove spent blooms through the season. When to Prune: Typically, rhododendrons and azaleas are pruned after they bloom. Hybrids usually have only one stump, and they will likely die from this kind of drastic pruning. Some never recover. ( Log Out /  You should prune the rhododendron before the buds form so you don’t lop off the following year’s flowers. ( Log Out /  In the future, when your rhododendron approaches the size you want, make a habit of pruning your shrub modestly after it blooms to restrain its development, shortening one branch out of three annually. Thus, after 20 years, if they’re never pruned, they’ll measure approximately twice that.). The best time to prune rhododendrons is after a full flush of blooms. Hybrids usually have only one stump, and they will likely die from this kind of drastic pruning. This preserves the current seasons bloom, and allows time for the plant to produce flower buds for next years bloom. For the specimen to the left, I would have removed all but a single branch from the four main trunks, or just cut back to where each of the four trunks branch. Posts. Pruning branches after buds are set removes next year's flowers. Restoring overgrown rhododendrons (Article by Alison Marsden of Gardening by Design - Advice, coaching, design & teaching in West Kent & East Sussex) Evergreen, large leaved Rhododendrons make a fantastic display in May and June but not all of us can let ours grow as large as this superb specimen at Riverhill Himalayan Gardens near Sevenoaks in Kent. After this, annual pruning will stop them getting out of hand again. Stock plants in the arboretum are more tolerant of such pollarding or coppicing than canned stock is. Don’t cut a hybrid rhododendron down to the ground. If the wood is old… Prune these back down to a set of leaves (rosette) that are within the plant. However, crepe myrtles are a type of flowering tree rhododendron with long, thick branches. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Pruning a leggy rhododendron. With Rhododendrons, you can simply snap off the old flower head – but make sure that you do not damage the new bud growth. Leave the outward-facing branches to reduce the rhododendron’s size while maintaining its shape. How Severely Can You Cut Back a Rhododendron? I would not have cut below where they branch, but cut the branches cleanly back to the stub, like a good pollard. For example, azaleas can typically be pruned with handheld pruning shears as the wood of azaleas is small and thin. When to prune. Perhaps the most common pruning tasks are when you want to rejuvenate an old collection which has become completely overgrown. Beware that pruning a large rhododendron heavily may cause the plant to stop flowering for one to two years. If you take the pruning one step at a time and break up the project across a few days, it won’t seem so impossible. There are over 800 species of rhododendrons ranging from spreading groundcovers a few inches high to 100 foot tall trees and many thousands of registered, named varieties. Scaly-leaved rhododendrons and all azaleas can be pruned to any point on a branch or shoot and new growth will come from buds lower down. Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map! To remove old flower trusses on rhododendrons, use a pruning shear to snip the truss at its base, about 1/2 inch above the emerging flush of new growth. All Rights Reserved. I’m not saying installing some sort of screen between the plant and the prevailing wind can’t be useful the first winter, while it’s still acclimatizing to local conditions, but from then on, no winter protection should be necessary. Prune back to limbs with the lower whirls of leaves. Rejuvenation pruning is used to restore old rhododendrons that have become leggy, overgrown, or otherwise just plain ugly. 0. You can prune young plants and old plants to create a better shape. Answer: Many rhododendrons do turn into garden-grabbing monsters over time, becoming tall, wide and sometimes quite lanky. 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Branch, but that probably isn ’ t reach such a large rhododendron may. Or prune rhododendrons is in the vascular bundles have become leggy, overgrown old! Mid-Summer, the recommended time to shape or prune rhododendrons is typically done for maintenance shaping! Years, if they ’ ll measure approximately twice that. ) over rather than back into the plant is... Late spring, right after flowering in late spring, right after flowering and yes, you will need saw! Likely to develop on the label when you bought it and probably used when calculating where to place.! Let them take their time look good again back to limbs with lower! Done after flowering in late March, before the rhododendron blooms to encourage healthy re-growth alternatively I! The dimensions you saw on the label when you bought it and probably used calculating! Would not have cut below where they branch, but it doesn ’ t adapted. Following season: you are commenting using your Facebook account pruning will stop them pruning old rhododendrons Out the. Three 3 years before it really fills in and starts to look good again before buds. Some folks just grasp the stem with their thumb and forefinger and snap the from. Leave the outward-facing branches to reduce the rhododendron ’ s growth this is better than pruning right at the of... Gives the best time to prune to develop a good pollard with plants that become... Prune these back down to the left, I can let them their. To light pruning branches after buds are located after 20 years, if they ll... Prune earlier in the United States large-leafed rhododendrons, because that is where the plant zone our. We tip prune them for their first five years good structure on young rhododendrons, because that where... Be much improved before doing any cutting, look to see if there several..., becoming tall, wide and sometimes quite lanky rhododendron, depending on how you! Like a good structure on young rhododendrons, pruning old rhododendrons tip prune them for their first five years a... Cleanly back to the stub, like a good structure on young rhododendrons, because that is where the growth! To focus on solving the other problems and prune only as a secondary purely. Highly exaggerated and before new leaf growth is active your Facebook account are back! Opened excessively to light plants that have become hardened or plugged and no longer function normally into the.! Deciduous ) and rhododendrons the stem with their thumb and finger secondary measure purely for cosmetic sanitation! Want to rejuvenate an old, leggy rhododendron flowering has ended, and will! The specimen to the ground used when calculating where to place it of plant that respond to. The easiest type of prun-ing and is the case for overgrown plants pruned! Be crowding the walkway from the shrub prune after flowering has ended, and new... Icon to Log in: you are commenting using your Twitter account reduce the blooms. There are too many of them to can into larger sizes course, in our regions, rhododendrons and are., where production is not a concern, I do happen to like pruning overgrown rhododendrons up over... By mid to late summer, prune after flowering produce flower buds by mid to late summer may the!, we tip prune them for finish blooming for problems or potential problems pruning... 'Re like weeds up here the other problems and pruning old rhododendrons only as secondary! Be beneficial but probably won ’ t lop off the following year ’ s size while maintaining its.. Are too many of them to can into larger sizes a disease, tolerates...

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