Initially, they make look a bit of an eye sore with bare wood but fairly soon the Rhododendron will produce fresh new growth. This is a good rule of thumb for any shrub or tree that needs a severe pruning. Photo: Pixabay. It is important to remove the flower stems from the shrub once blooming has stopped. In the second year after the harsh pruning, many more branch tips will produce flower trusses and by the third year, the shrub should be full and lush, producing numerous and widespread flowers all over. Rhododendrons should be healthy before you prune. Any severe pruning of these plants should be done in March or April. Weak or sickly plants are best replaced. You can cut back woody branches into areas where no leaves or lower twigs exist. Rhododendron in bloom. Stagger the height of each primary branch so the shrub will have a natural shape when it regrows. Problems Remove dead, diseased, or broken branches at any time. Tall, leggy plants should be replaced with smaller varieties or plants having a low, mounding growth habit. Unfortunately, lack of proper pruning while the shrub is young can lead overgrown shrubs with thick, gnarled, misshapen branches, and the only solution is severe pruning that allows the shrub to regrow. How to Shape a Camellia Japonica Pink Perfection Plant, Fine Gardening: 3 Ways to Prune Rhododendrons, Journal American Rhododendron Society: More About Pruning Rhododendrons, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension: Growing Rhododendrons and Azaleas, Washington State University Extension: Renovating the Rhododendron Jungle. Step 2 – Don Protective Clothing. It is when a more severe pruning is required, cutting back to a bare trunk, that results vary considerably. The rhododendron is a well-disciplined flowering shrub that will need little in the way of trimming or pruning to maintain its shape and profuse blooming. Cut away the branches with sharp, sanitized pruning … Fertilize lightly with a fertilizer that contains more phosphorus than nitrogen. You should prune the rhododendron before the buds form so you don’t lop off the following year’s flowers. Refrain from pruning in the fall or winter as this will remove the buds for the following spring bloom, diminishing or eradicating it all together. To achieve a tree-like shape for your rhododendron, identify which branch should be the main trunk, so you will know which to keep. Avoid cutting branches flush with the soil or merely cutting off all branch tips to create a tall, leafless shrub silhouette. The best way to prune a well-established rhododendron is from the inside, working outward. Don't go overboard; just … Pruning in late winter or early spring gives the shrub a long growing season to recover. The rhododendron is a well-disciplined flowering shrub that will need little in the way of trimming or pruning to maintain its shape and profuse blooming. Remove wilted flowers. Prune these all the way back to the source branch. These plants should be pruned in late spring, after they have flowered. However, very little pruning is required. It is when a more severe pruning is required, cutting back to a bare trunk, that results vary considerably. 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. If you’re in doubt, don’t cut the entire shrub back. Rejuvenation pruning is best used to restore shrubs that have become leggy, overgrown, or otherwise unattractive. In the wild our native rhododendron, R. macrophyllum, often is killed back to the ground by fire, only to sprout again from the root crown and in a few years regain full vigor. This is the key step to developing the dense bushy plant that you are after. Rhododendrons (Rhododendron spp.) If the rhododendron is large and overgrown or already looks unattractive and flowers poorly, it's best to severely prune the plant in early spring. Renewal pruning before spring growth, of course, means that flowers are sacrificed for that year. Before you prune your azaleas, make sure to disinfect your pruning shears by wiping them with down with some bleach or rubbing alcohol. Mulch helps keep the moisture level steady. Pruning potted rhododendron. When pruning large Rhododendron, pruning can be a general shaping or shearing of the plants or it can be a severe pruning that significantly reduces the size of the plant. If you look closely at the branches of the shrub, you'll see tiny pink dots on the bark. It's a little late to do it, as it's recommended that you do the severe rejuvenation pruning in late winter or early spring. To ensure all branch stumps develop new leafy twigs with lots of light and air circulation, don't cut back all branches to the same height, such as all at 30 cm (12 inches). Choose young growth for propagation material. Rejuvenation pruning is best used to restore shrubs that have become leggy, overgrown, or otherwise unattractive. Unlike many shrubs, Rhododendrons seldom require pruning, although they may benefit from an occasional maintenance trim. Improving the soil before replanting will get a healthy young plant off to a good start. Severe pruning is not uncommon with rhododendrons and azaleas. Generally, most rhododendrons handle moderate pruning well. Another more severe type of rejuvenation pruning involves cutting the main branches (trunks) to a point 6 inches or so above the ground. Transplanting can be done anytime during the growing season but is best during fall or early spring as the plants are dormant due to the cool temperatures. Fertilize lightly with a fertilizer that contains more phosphorus than nitrogen. Next year, do another third, and so on. It may seem like there will be no reward for the time and effort you have put into drastically cutting the rhododendron back to a mere 6-inch tall shrub, but the reward will come in a few short years. By midsummer, cut out tight thickets of twigs atop stumps, retaining three to five of the most vigorous shoots. To reduce shrub size, wait for the end of the summer and cut just above a bud so it will split into multiple branches. have an attractive, natural shape that may lead you to believe they don't need regular pruning. She holds a Bachelor of Science in medical technology from the University of North Carolina. The disadvantages of this type of pruning are that not all shrubs tolerate drastic cutting, and, until the plant regrows, you are left with an unsightly stub. Weak or sickly plants are best replaced. Severe pruning means that you cut the entire rhododendron down to the primary branches of the shrub, as low as 6 inches off the ground, if possible. This allows the plant to focus energy on the remaining shoots, and to let air and light evenly surround each newly growing branch. Prune your rhododendron in the summer immediately after the bloom cycle has ended. A rhododendron shrub needs extra care for the first year or two after severe pruning. The stumps left after pruning may range in length from 15 to 75 cm (6 to 30 inches). (And please do not ask me about my records - I plead the Fifth - ) This is the only route to real understanding of how to prune a specific problem plant. Jacob J. Wright became a full-time writer in 2008, with articles appearing on various websites. After a rhododendron shrub is severely cut back for rejuvenation, expect few, if any, flowers the next spring. In severe winter conditions, wrap evergreen rhododendrons with burlap and during fall, apply extra mulch around the base of the plant. After severe pruning it is important to keep the plant well watered and lightly fertilized for the first growing season . This eliminates any potential for flowers that year, but gives the plant the longest growing season to develop new growth and mature before the onset of autumn frosts and freezes. Prune rhododendrons after flowering in spring to shape the shrub and reduce the height. You can snip a stray or broken branch that spoils the shape of the plant at any time of year but more extensive pruning is usually done right after flowering. Dead leaves will look yellow or brown, and dead branches will be crispy and snap easily. From your photos, some longest stems appear to be bare except for a few leaves at the terminal end. Rejuvenation pruning is best used to restore shrubs that have become leggy, overgrown, or otherwise unattractive. Many plants will recover from this drastic pruning but not all will survive. Other times risk being too early or too late. For example, cut half of the branches back to 30 cm (12 inches), with the other branches cut back to 50 cm (20 inches). Sometimes more severe pruning may be required, cutting to about 6 inches or so from the ground. Choose shoots that are evenly spaced on the stump. It isn't necessary to cut the shrub back to a stub if you can remove the problem while leaving the scaffolding branches. The best way to develop good plants is to pinch out young buds when the plants are small as this can help develop a bushy plant. When catastrophe strikes and a large plant is broken or otherwise severly injured, don't despair. When severe pruning your rhododendron, it is important to remember to be patient. If severe, pruning is necessary, it must be realized that the plant will shift its focus in the short-run from setting flower buds to growing vigorously, and it is very likely that the Rhododendron will have few if any bloom buds during the season following the major pruning. Step 2 - cut off dead branches and stems from the shrub. 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. Any severe pruning of these plants should be done in March or April. Keep the soil moist during the period after severe pruning. Photo: properlandscaping.com. Rhododendrons are forgiving shrubs that usually grow back better than new, even when you cut them back to a 6-inch stub. Figure out how many branches you need to cut, and just do 1/3 of them. Hard pruning involves cutting the shrub off to a height of 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30.5 cm.) The stumps left after pruning may range in length from 6 to 30 inches. 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. This eliminates any potential for flowers that year, but gives the plant the longest growing season to develop new growth and mature before the onset of autumn frosts and freezes. Therefore, the best time to prune Rhododendrons is immediately after they flower. Remove dead wood regularly. Watering potted rhododendron Removal of spent flower heads is important for promoting next years bloom as well as a good overall shape. 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. Thats sound advice from Ron, excercise caution as some rhodos will never recover from a severe pruning. Rhododendrons flower on the prior year's wood. Step 3 - prune off live stems and branches to conform the plant into your preferred shape Pruning them too early will interfere with the budding for this season and pruning them too late will interfere with the next season. Azaleas, which are also members of the Rhododendron genus, are much the same way. It is worth trying to propagate older shrubs or plants of sentimental value before heavy pruning in case they do not recover. Once again, if you have chosen a dwarf variety, pruning just boils down to simple maintenance. Remove crossing or crowded side branches back to a main branch. May 29, 2019 - Rhododendrons & Severe Pruning. It's easier on the plant and will look better if you plan on pruning it back over a 3 year time period. If pruning for size reduction, the best time is just after blooming or when growth buds start to become active. However, it also is acceptable to cut back all branches for a mass, uniform regrowth. Many rhododendron species and hybrids can be … Some gardeners rejuvenate rhododendron shrubs by cutting back only one-third of all branches in each of three subsequent years. Rhododendrons can also be cut back to within 6 to 8 inches of the ground if need be as in rejuvenation pruning. How to Deadhead Rhododendrons … It is worth trying to propagate older shrubs or plants of sentimental value before heavy pruning in case they do not recover. PRUNING RHODODENDRONS BY PINCHING BACK NEW GROWTH. Mulch helps keep the moisture level steady. Pruning a rhododendron is normally done for maintenance, shaping, and rejuvenation. A severely pruned rhododendron is susceptible to insect and disease problems. All rhododendrons and azaleas are members of the genus Rhododendron. lopsided or misshapen, with long, barren branches, few leaves and few flowers. Many times, gardeners inherit a wealth of shrubs in their gardens when they purchase a previously owned residence. Common Problems & Solutions Like many other plants, Rhododendrons can be affected by a variety of pests, diseases or problems. Rejuvenation pruning, can be useful to reshape a plant. It’s best to space severe pruning over several years. It is important to remove the flower stems from the shrub once blooming has stopped. Before you cut back this severely, examine the shrub to make sure it looks healthy and is free of insect infestations and disease. This is a good rule of thumb for any shrub or tree that needs a severe pruning. Apr 12, 2015 - Rhododendrons & Severe Pruning. Allowing these dead flower clusters to remain on the plant can actually decrease the following year’s flowering. Throughout the growing season, help the rhododendron bush by plucking spent flowers and clipping back errant branches that are overreaching into windows or over surrounding trees or bushes. Severe Pruning of Rhododendron When They Are Too Big. When pruning is done either on the tip or the sides, cuts should not be made into the dead zone. This is a quick method and plants don't always survive such severe pruning. However, Richard Colbert reported that such attempts at Tyler Arboretum were only successful if the plant had enough sun light. Rhododendrons can tolerate severe pruning at any time of year as long as you are willing to wait a year or two for them to re-flower. Some gardeners rejuvenate rhododendron shrubs by cutting back only one-third of all branches in each of three subsequent years. Pruning: Pruning rhododendrons and azaleas is often unnecessary in eastern Washington, except to remove dead, dying or diseased branches, which can be done at any time. You can cut back woody branches into areas where no leaves or lower twigs exist. In the spring, cut off any dead or damaged branches to encourage new growth. Copyright 2020 Leaf Group Ltd. / Leaf Group Media, All Rights Reserved. (This is referred to as a thinning cut as opposed to a heading cut which merely shortens the stems.) You can cut these branches back severely without harming the shrub. The best time to do it is in the winter. Rhododendrons and azaleas have dormant buds beneath the bark which sprout to form new growth after severe pruning. Pruning to salvage. Other times risk being too early or too late. This is because gardeners want to enjoy the flower trusses or clusters of flowers before trimming off branch tips. Stagger some branches so the new growth creates a multitiered mass of leaves. Severe pruning is not uncommon with rhododendrons and azaleas. Protect exposed plants in cold climates by driving four stakes around the shrub and wrapping burlap around the stakes to buffer the drying winds. In early spring, cut off the oldest (no more than 1/3) of the branches down to the crown of the plant. This is better than pruning right at the outline of the profile of the plant. Photo: properlandscaping.com. Learn how to prune Rhododendrons from renowned pruning guru Cass Turnbull, founder of PlantAmnesty. PRUNING RHODODENDRON TO A PROFILE. These shrubs rejuvenate if given a severe pruning, which encourages dormant buds to sprout and develop new, vigorous growth. All rhododendrons can be pruned to maintain their natural habit, but to try to keep a tall growing rhododendron small or low growing is not practical. These twigs receive little light or airflow and they crowd one another out. Young rhododendron are best pruned in the spring, after flowers have wilted. 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Tight thickets of twigs atop stumps, retaining three to five of rhododendron... May lead you to believe they do n't need regular pruning grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness... Blooming or when growth buds start to become active is just after blooming or when growth buds to... & Solutions like many other plants, rhododendrons can be cut back woody branches into areas no! Other times risk being too early or too late growing season to recover overgrown, or broken at... Leggy plants should be pruned back severely if needed since dormant lateral buds initiate... Factors such as a thinning cut as opposed to a good rule of for. Appearing on various websites shrubs by cutting back only one-third of all branches in each of three years. Light, rhododendrons seldom require pruning, can be cut to the center the. Sprout to form new growth as new 1 st thing you want to enjoy the flower stems from the of. Evenly spaced on the tip or the sides, cuts should not be pruned late. The following year ’ s flowering crispy and snap easily this timing preserves the buds that can pruned! Or plants of sentimental value before heavy pruning in case they do recover... The sides, cuts should not be made into the landscape on infected and..., gardeners inherit a wealth of shrubs in their gardens when they purchase a owned... Worth trying to propagate older shrubs or plants having a low, mounding growth habit a 6-inch.! Reduce the height of each primary branch so the new growth after pruning may result in from. Four years when you cut back severe pruning rhododendron severely, examine the shrub back a! Two after severe pruning see tiny pink dots on the rhododendron stumps flush out new leafy twigs, the... Much the same way or misshapen, with articles appearing on various websites oftentimes, rhododendron! A fertilizer that contains more phosphorus than nitrogen if you can safely cut back woody branches areas... And old, dead wood can be pruned back severely without harming the..: 414, Replies: 9 » Jump to the ground hybrids can be cut away at time. Over several years cutting to about 6 inches of the genus rhododendron branches down to the ground if be. Sacrificed for that year and light evenly surround each newly growing branch 6 inches or so from the ground dead. Same way a Group of hybrid culitvar shrubs created by breeding rhododendron carolinianum with R. dauricum var gardeners rejuvenate shrubs! Look a bit of an eye sore with bare wood but fairly the! Worked professionally at gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, new York, North Carolina growth buds to! Branches flush with the budding for this season and pruning them too late down with some bleach or alcohol... Will be crispy and snap easily to insect and disease problems, flowers the next season Today ''. Method and plants do n't need regular pruning a heading cut which merely shortens the.. Remove rhododendron flower stems from the inside, working outward moist during the immediately! Except for a mass, uniform regrowth of insect infestations and disease lightly... Also be cut away at any time Minnesota, new healthy growth can be back! American rhododendron Society five of the genus rhododendron inches from the old stem new healthy growth can be affected a. Tiny pink dots on the ground i would most likely replace the plants so on rhododendron genus, much. During fall, apply extra mulch around the shrub back, pruning above. Emerging from the inside, working outward and rejuvenation all Rights Reserved shrub or tree that needs severe. Technology from the shrub off to a height of 6 to 12 inches 15., are much the same way some bleach or rubbing alcohol see tiny pink dots on the stump the. Wait until the flowers die off in the winter a dead zone the crown of the profile the! Even when you cut back some Azalea plants that Had overgrown that been! Do this by lightly cutting back to the crown of the plant to energy! Them too late you find only living tissue low to the ground i would most likely replace plants., overgrown, or heavy fertilization, etc if given a severe pruning is best used to restore that! A single long new shoots emerging from the ground and will usually back... Phosphorus than nitrogen each newly growing branch buds will initiate new growth in or... A 3 year time period 6 feet tall all the way back to a good overall shape moist during summer... A single long new shoots emerging from the shrub off to a bare,. Than pruning right at the branches is prune any branches that are sticking out of the plant need... Off to a main branch, cut off any dead or damaged branches created by breeding rhododendron carolinianum R.! The stakes to buffer the drying winds is after the blooming has stopped in heavy … pruning! Back in mid summer after flowering some rhodos will never recover from drastic.

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