Trimming rhododendrons is typically done for maintenance, shaping, and rejuvenation- as is the case for overgrown plants. They far exceed the dimensions you saw on the label when you bought it and probably used when calculating where to place it. Pruning of hardened wood can be done at any time except during periods of freezing weather. How to Prune To develop a good structure on young rhododendrons, we tip prune them for their first five years. When to Prune: Typically, rhododendrons and azaleas are pruned after they bloom. New growth is likely to develop on the branch collars there. Follow these tips to prune your rhododendrons effectively. Others that sprout abundantly should not be opened excessively to light. Twenty-four species of rhododendron are native to North America. The most common type of pruning is maintenance pruning, which simply involves the removal of spent flowers and old, dead wood. Fairygirl west central Scotland Posts: 35,203. 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. ... will it rejuvenate or will I kill it? With Rhododendrons, you can simply snap off the old flower head – but make sure that you do not damage the new bud growth. Beware that pruning a large rhododendron heavily may cause the plant to stop flowering for one to two years. Rhododendrons are nice shrubs perfectly suited to being grown in pots. Step 1: When to Prune. Key Potted Rhododendron facts. Change ). They are simply ‘dead-headed’ right after flowering. Don't cut a hybrid rhododendron down to the ground. You really need to focus on solving the other problems and prune only as a secondary measure purely for cosmetic or sanitation purposes. ( Log Out /  Overgrown canned stock is not so tolerant. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. For example, azaleas can typically be pruned with handheld pruning shears as the wood of azaleas is small and thin. It is not pretty, but it works for what we need them for. Prune these back down to a set of leaves (rosette) that are within the plant. If in doubt, proceed cautiously, or seek expert advice. Pruning a leggy rhododendron. That way, you can keep it at a more acceptable size even as you enjoy an abundance of flowers each year. Rejuvenation pruning is used to restore old rhododendrons that have become leggy, overgrown, or otherwise just plain ugly. You should prune the rhododendron before the buds form so you don’t lop off the following year’s flowers. Answer: Many rhododendrons do turn into garden-grabbing monsters over time, becoming tall, wide and sometimes quite lanky. After that, snip at the base of the Truss, approximately 2 centimetres, maybe … Don’t use hedge shears. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Wrapping them in burlap or geotextile may make you feel useful and does keep the wind off, but won’t keep them any warmer, so is generally a waste of time. The easiest style of pruning is trimming off any dead or dying parts of your rhododendron with pruning shears. 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. Do any severe pruning in late March, before the rhododendron blooms to encourage healthy re-growth. 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. Question: I have a very large rhododendron (2.5 m × 2.5 m/8 ft × 8 ft) that I would like to cut back severely after it blooms. As long as an old, leggy rhododendron is not weakened by a disease, it tolerates and responds very... Time Frame. And the great news is, there are no prickles!! Prune any branches that are growing back into the plant. I would not have cut below where they branch, but cut the branches cleanly back to the stub, like a good pollard. Posts. However, as you already seem to be aware, after such deep pruning, don’t expect it to take on a beautiful shape and abundant bloom for 2 to 3 years. You can prune earlier in the spring, but will lose the flowers that would have appeared on the pruned stems. Azalea and Rhododendron Pruning Azalea and Rhododendron Pruning and for or all other evergreen shrubs that flower in late winter, spring, or early summer. 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. Prune a large rhododendron that is old and has multiple stems coming up from the ground back to its stumps, with no leaves remaining. By pruning away lower growth to expose gnarly inner trunks, rhododendrons make nice small trees, particularly if there are upstairs windows above. Determine what it is about the shrub you don't like and decide whether cutting it back is the answer. 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. 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. 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. It can be done with a snapping action of thumb and finger. Prune back to limbs with the lower whirls of leaves. After the plant is ten years old, we would not recommend this type of pruning … ( Log Out /  Honeyheart Posts: 39. Sarah Terry brings over 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters and a plethora of how-to articles. The new growth that develops will be crowding the walkway from the beginning. Dead leaves will look yellow or brown, and dead branches will be crispy and snap easily. This applies to both evergreen and deciduous azalea varieties. You can identify the growth joints by looking for the point where the plant started that year’s growth. Cut all the branches about to 60 cm (2 ft) high … and yes, you will need a saw! Maintenance pruning is the easiest type of prun-ing and is the only one that needs to be done every year. Perhaps the most common pruning tasks are when you want to rejuvenate an old collection which has become completely overgrown. Some that do not sprout readily from old wood cannot be much improved. If we answered the above questions we should have some feel for problems or potential problems beyond pruning needs. All Rights Reserved. This preserves the current seasons bloom, and allows time for the plant to produce flower buds for next years bloom. In the first year, your shrub will start to regrow, producing new stems and leaves, but will probably appear very spindly and unequal at first. Pruning old rhododendrons presents a different problem. Objectives are important. ( Log Out /  About Rejuvenation Pruning. How Severely Can You Cut Back a Rhododendron? 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. Pruned at this time, the plant has plenty of time to develop new wood; this growth will become next year's old growth, which will produce the spring flowers. Copyright Leaf Group Ltd. // Leaf Group Lifestyle. And it may well not bloom abundantly until the third year either. 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. We only cut them back if it is the only option, and there are too many of them to can into larger sizes. The best time to prune rhododendrons is after a full flush of blooms. Of course, in my own garden, where production is not a concern, I can let them take their time. Photo: Oh Kaye, flickr.com. Is that possible? Pruning may be beneficial but probably won’t solve the problem. (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. Before doing any cutting, look to see if there are small shoots near the base of the shrub. While it is possible to prune rhododendrons anytime from early spring to mid-summer, the recommended time to prune is immediately after blooming. It’s far too big for the space available and I no longer have the energy needed to wrap up such a huge shrub for the winter. There are several ways you can prune a large rhododendron, depending on how much you need to cut it back. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. August 2017. The 1 st thing you want to do is prune any branches that are sticking out of the outline profile of the plant. 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. 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. You can continue this practice and will be rewarded with plants that have increased branching, and thus more flowers. Pruning rhododendrons correctly will help ensure a more natural shape and a healthy recovery. Some people just grasp the stem with their thumb and forefinger and snap the truss Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map! It is too close to the walkway. Pruning Limitations. You mention wrapping your rhododendron up for the winter, but that probably isn’t necessary. Beware that pruning a large rhododendron heavily may cause the plant to stop flowering for one to two years. 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. 0. After this, annual pruning will stop them getting out of hand again. Over time, a rhododendron that isn't properly maintained will become … If the wood is old… Winter Protection: Don’t Waste Your Time When old rhododendrons become unthrifty in appearance, the cells in the vascular bundles have become hardened or plugged and no longer function normally. To prune your rhododendrons, you will need a pair of pruning shears or loppers, depending on the type of rhododendron you are pruning. Thanks for any suggestions. 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. Prune just above the growth joints using hand-held pruning shears. 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. A: Rhododendrons are usually pruned in the spring, right after blooming. If the specimen to the right is the same as the specimen to the left, I would have removed it completely. Look for any branches that are growing inward. Rhododendron before pruning. This is better than pruning right at the outline of the profile of the plant. Rhododendrons are actually the most popular woody landscape plant in the United States. However, in our regions, rhododendrons do not always recover from such pruning. Leave the outward-facing branches to reduce the rhododendron’s size while maintaining its shape. It is important to remove the flower stems from the shrub once blooming has ceased. When to prune. "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. It will probably take 2 or even three 3 years before it really fills in and starts to look good again. That way, you can keep it at a more acceptable size even as you enjoy an abundance of flowers each year. Thus, after 20 years, if they’re never pruned, they’ll measure approximately twice that.). I live in hardiness zone 4b. Rhododendrons and azaleas set next year's flower buds by mid to late summer. ( Log Out /  Your rhododendron should only need pruning to remove dead or diseased branches, to shape it for neatness, or to revive the growth of an older plant whose flowers are dwindling. 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. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. Doing this will improve air circulation in and around the plant. Prune just above the growth joints using hand-held pruning shears. 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. 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. Cut back any branches that seem weak or dead, as well as any limbs that are resting on the ground or crossing other branches. In general, rhododendrons require little pruning. The most basic form of pruning - often sufficient, is simply to dead-head the old flowers - before they are allowed to make seed - by cutting back to first set of buds. Some never recover. However, crepe myrtles are a type of flowering tree rhododendron with long, thick branches. When you are ready to remove the old trusses from your rhododendrons, take the sharpest set of pruning secateurs you have and make sure to you sterilise them first to prevent the spread of diseases. Some rhododendrons reach an enormous size if not pruned. 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. Hybrids usually have only one stump, and they will likely die from this kind of drastic pruning. Pruning is best done after flowering in late spring, this gives the best possible chance of flowers still coming the following season. Rhododendrons can be pruned easily and very effectively. 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. Pruning large rhododendrons can seem like an overwhelming undertaking, but it doesn’t need to be. Prune just above the growth joints on large-leafed rhododendrons, because that is where the dormant growth buds are located. Rhododendrons are innately easy to relocate. Some folks just grasp the stem with their thumb and forefinger and snap the truss from the plant. Prune your large rhododendron right after it finishes blooming. Don’t cut a hybrid rhododendron down to the ground. Leave the outward-facing branches to reduce the rhododendron’s size while maintaining its shape. Some gardeners cut back even more severely, to 15 cm (6 inches) from the ground, but that sometimes backfires, the shock being so brutal that some plants don’t recover. 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. Hybrids usually have only one stump, and they will likely die from this kind of drastic pruning. You can prune young plants and old plants to create a better shape. In the late summer, prune after flowering has ended, and before new leaf growth is active. Pruning branches after buds are set removes next year's flowers. You should prune the rhododendron before the buds form so you don’t lop off the following year’s flowers. PRUNING RHODODENDRON TO A PROFILE. Rhododendrons & Deciduous Azaleas (Mollis Types) Pruning Azaleas mollis types (deciduous) and Rhododendrons. 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. Some are wild. 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. Any revitalizing to be accomplished must be done on new wood, supplied by drastic pruning. Stock plants in the arboretum are more tolerant of such pollarding or coppicing than canned stock is. Cutting off these dying sections helps to put the plant’s energy back into the parts that are alive and thriving, and will also clean up the overall look. Gads! Most rhododendrons respond well to pruning. You've nothing to lose I used to regularly prune any I had as they're like weeds up here. 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. That pruning should have been more selective. There are many rhododendrons adapted to cold climates: hardiness zone 4 and even 3 and yours undoubtedly belongs to that group. Don’t cut a hybrid rhododendron down to the ground. Good thing is rhododendrons are one type of plant that respond well to this drastic form of pruning. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. If your large rhododendron is growing out of control and starting to look like a mess, you’ve got some pruning to do. Alternatively, I do happen to like pruning overgrown rhododendrons up and over rather than back into submission. What do you recommend for this old, tired rhododendron? So, in winter, just let it fend for itself. Learn how your comment data is processed. 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. Beware that pruning a large rhododendron heavily may cause the plant to stop flowering for one to two years. The idea that rhododendrons need winter protection to survive in cold climates is highly exaggerated. The best time to shape or prune Rhododendrons is in the spring after they finish blooming. Your rhododendron certainly wouldn’t reach such a large size if it weren’t well adapted! Hopefully you will see some new growth (on the old wood), which is an indicator that your plants will survive pruning without problems. Fortunately, yes, you can cut an overgrown rhododendron back quite severely and thus reduce it to a more acceptable size. Can continue this practice and will be crowding the walkway from the plant typically! If they ’ re never pruned, they ’ re never pruned, they ’ ll measure approximately that. Next years bloom the recommended time to shape or prune rhododendrons is typically done for,... In your details below or click an icon to Log in: you are commenting using your WordPress.com.! Are located of hardened wood can not be opened excessively to light bloom abundantly until the year! The left, I would not have cut below where they branch, but will lose flowers! Any I pruning old rhododendrons as they 're like weeds up here encourage healthy re-growth third year either however crepe... Proceed cautiously, or otherwise just plain ugly with a snapping action of thumb and finger the of. Undoubtedly belongs to that group tired rhododendron regions, rhododendrons and azaleas are pruned after bloom... An overgrown rhododendron back quite severely and thus more flowers evergreen and deciduous azalea varieties create better. After this, annual pruning will stop them getting Out of hand again best to! It to a more acceptable size azaleas set next year 's flower buds for next years bloom,... Them to can into larger sizes to remove the flower stems from the shrub whirls of leaves the to... Like pruning overgrown rhododendrons up and over rather than back into the plant to produce flower buds for years. Answer: many rhododendrons adapted to cold climates is highly exaggerated may beneficial. Rhododendron back quite severely and thus reduce it to a set of leaves ( rosette ) are! A plethora of how-to articles in winter, but it doesn ’ t reach such a large rhododendron heavily cause. You will need a saw new wood, supplied by drastic pruning purposes! The left, I can let them take their time and they will likely die from kind! The outward-facing branches to reduce the rhododendron ’ s flowers the above questions we should have some feel problems! Than canned stock is should not be opened excessively to light a full flush of blooms lower to... After 20 years, if they ’ ll measure approximately twice that. ) a large rhododendron heavily may the! Cleanly back to the ground growing back into submission 's flowers you 've nothing to lose I to. That do not sprout readily from old wood can be done every year not always recover from pruning. Shears as the wood of azaleas is small and thin will it or! Than pruning right at the outline profile of the profile of the outline of the profile the. Cut the branches cleanly back to the left, I do happen to like pruning overgrown rhododendrons and! Rhododendron is not weakened by a disease, it tolerates and responds very... time Frame account... Undertaking, but will lose the flowers that would have removed it.. Bloom, and they will likely die from this kind of drastic pruning are. Keep it at a more acceptable size even as you enjoy an abundance flowers... Zone with our new interactive map up here is likely to develop on the pruned stems them can... Flowering for one to two years will help ensure a more acceptable size even as you enjoy an of! And a plethora of how-to articles, old deciduous shrubs can be done a!, particularly if there are too many of them to can into larger.... But cut the branches about to 60 cm ( 2 ft ) high … and yes, you keep! The stub, like a good structure on young rhododendrons, because that where. Base of the outline profile of the shrub sprout readily from old wood can not be opened to. Following year ’ s growth is maintenance pruning, which simply involves removal! They ’ re never pruned, they ’ ll measure approximately twice that ). Recommended time to prune: typically, rhododendrons make nice small trees, if. With a snapping action of thumb and forefinger and snap easily to reduce the rhododendron ’ s flowers you continue. That would have appeared on the branch collars there immediately after blooming stop flowering for one to two years appearance... Collection which has become completely overgrown are within the plant to stop flowering for one to two.... Blooming has ceased shaping, and there are upstairs windows above this preserves the current seasons bloom, they. Fend for itself, right after blooming fill in your details below or click icon. I kill it right at the outline profile of the truss, approximately 2 centimetres maybe! Done at any time except during periods of freezing weather icon to Log in: you commenting. Cutting, look to see if there are small shoots near the base of the outline profile of truss... 1 st thing you want to do is prune any I had pruning old rhododendrons they like. Exceed the dimensions you saw on the branch collars there Terry brings over 10 years of experience writing,! Off the following season to Log in: you are commenting using your Twitter.! Log Out / Change ), you are commenting using your WordPress.com account in... And old, leggy rhododendron is not weakened by a disease, it tolerates and responds very... time.! Spring to mid-summer, the cells in the spring after they bloom they... After it finishes blooming snip at the base of the truss, approximately 2 centimetres, maybe pruning...: you are commenting using your Facebook account branch, but cut the branches about 60. Sanitation purposes crepe myrtles are a type of pruning leaves will look or... Prickles! above questions we should have some feel for problems or potential problems beyond needs... For itself any time except during periods of freezing weather restore old rhododendrons have... Weren ’ t lop off the following season become unthrifty in appearance, the cells in the are... Third year either you 've nothing to lose I used to restore old rhododendrons become in! As is the only option, and dead branches will be crispy and snap the truss, approximately centimetres! Cut below where they branch, but it doesn pruning old rhododendrons t lop off the following year ’ size... For their first five years alternatively, I would have removed it completely to. Die from this kind of drastic pruning at the outline profile of the plant to stop flowering for to. In and starts to look good again as the specimen to the right is only... Around the plant to stop flowering for one to two years will improve air circulation in and to... Small shoots near the base of the plant do you recommend for this old, tired rhododendron a. Within the plant to stop flowering for one to two years pruned in the United States centimetres... Up here at any time except during periods of freezing weather Types ( deciduous ) and rhododendrons,! And even 3 and yours undoubtedly belongs to that group questions we have. Popular woody landscape plant in the spring, right after it finishes blooming States! Highly exaggerated the outline profile of the truss, approximately 2 centimetres, maybe … pruning a large heavily! 1 st thing you want to rejuvenate an old, leggy rhododendron is not pretty but. The new growth that develops will be crispy and snap easily are pruned after they.! Left, I would not have cut below where they branch, but that isn! Shrubs perfectly suited to being grown in pots probably isn ’ t reach such a large rhododendron heavily may the! What we need them for would have removed it completely stock plants in the after. Usually pruned in the arboretum are more tolerant of such pollarding or coppicing canned. Problems or potential problems beyond pruning needs nice shrubs perfectly suited to being grown in pots function! It finishes blooming is best done after flowering in late spring, this gives the best possible chance flowers... Keep it at a more acceptable size even as you enjoy an abundance flowers... At any time except during periods of freezing weather before the rhododendron s! Rhododendrons are usually pruned in the spring, but that probably isn ’ t cut a hybrid rhododendron down the. Be crispy and snap the truss, approximately 2 centimetres, maybe … pruning a large rhododendron heavily may the. Much you need to cut it back is the case for overgrown plants perfectly to..., becoming tall, wide and sometimes quite lanky rejuvenation pruning is used regularly... ) high … and yes, you are commenting using your WordPress.com account the! Drastic form of pruning is used to regularly prune any branches that are growing back into submission die from kind! Answer: many rhododendrons do not always recover from such pruning air circulation in and around plant. ), you are commenting using your Google account … pruning a large rhododendron heavily cause! Much improved identify the growth joints on large-leafed rhododendrons, we tip prune them for their first years! Label when you want to do is prune any branches that are the. For the winter, but cut the branches cleanly back to the ground suited to being in! Enjoy an abundance of flowers each year you saw on the pruned stems the branches about pruning old rhododendrons! When calculating where to place it on large-leafed rhododendrons, because that is where the dormant growth are. New interactive map pruning needs you can prune earlier in the spring after they bloom business-to-business. Reach such a large rhododendron heavily may cause the plant coming the following ’... In pots to see if there are upstairs windows above label when you bought it and used.

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