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. Thanks for any suggestions. ... will it rejuvenate or will I kill it? Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. They far exceed the dimensions you saw on the label when you bought it and probably used when calculating where to place it. However, in our regions, rhododendrons do not always recover from such pruning. The idea that rhododendrons need winter protection to survive in cold climates is highly exaggerated. Honeyheart Posts: 39. Before doing any cutting, look to see if there are small shoots near the base of the shrub. Cut all the branches about to 60 cm (2 ft) high … and yes, you will need a saw! 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. Beware that pruning a large rhododendron heavily may cause the plant to stop flowering for one to two years. Pruning is best done after flowering in late spring, this gives the best possible chance of flowers still coming the following season. For example, azaleas can typically be pruned with handheld pruning shears as the wood of azaleas is small and thin. 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. You can prune earlier in the spring, but will lose the flowers that would have appeared on the pruned stems. It is important to remove the flower stems from the shrub once blooming has ceased. Prune any branches that are growing back into the plant. Learn how your comment data is processed. What do you recommend for this old, tired rhododendron? Look for any branches that are growing inward. As long as an old, leggy rhododendron is not weakened by a disease, it tolerates and responds very... Time Frame. If we answered the above questions we should have some feel for problems or potential problems beyond pruning needs. Don’t use hedge shears. Pruning branches after buds are set removes next year's flowers. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Your rhododendron certainly wouldn’t reach such a large size if it weren’t well adapted! 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. Most rhododendrons respond well to pruning. 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. 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. That pruning should have been more selective. If your large rhododendron is growing out of control and starting to look like a mess, you’ve got some pruning to do. Fairygirl west central Scotland Posts: 35,203. Prune your large rhododendron right after it finishes blooming. Dead leaves will look yellow or brown, and dead branches will be crispy and snap easily. Rhododendrons and azaleas set next year's flower buds by mid to late summer. Fortunately, yes, you can cut an overgrown rhododendron back quite severely and thus reduce it to a more acceptable size. New growth is likely to develop on the branch collars there. Any revitalizing to be accomplished must be done on new wood, supplied by drastic pruning. That way, you can keep it at a more acceptable size even as you enjoy an abundance of flowers each year. Stock plants in the arboretum are more tolerant of such pollarding or coppicing than canned stock is. Some never recover. Don't cut a hybrid rhododendron down to the ground. Rhododendrons can be pruned easily and very effectively. Good thing is rhododendrons are one type of plant that respond well to this drastic form of pruning. PRUNING RHODODENDRON TO A PROFILE. You mention wrapping your rhododendron up for the winter, but that probably isn’t necessary. This preserves the current seasons bloom, and allows time for the plant to produce flower buds for next years bloom. 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. 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've nothing to lose I used to regularly prune any I had as they're like weeds up here. Pruning old rhododendrons presents a different problem. This applies to both evergreen and deciduous azalea varieties. Rhododendrons are innately easy to relocate. 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. Photo: Oh Kaye, flickr.com. 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. Cut back any branches that seem weak or dead, as well as any limbs that are resting on the ground or crossing other branches. How to Prune To develop a good structure on young rhododendrons, we tip prune them for their first five years. All Rights Reserved. Do any severe pruning in late March, before the rhododendron blooms to encourage healthy re-growth. Posts. After that, snip at the base of the Truss, approximately 2 centimetres, maybe … Others that sprout abundantly should not be opened excessively to light. It is too close to the walkway. Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map! You can prune young plants and old plants to create a better shape. Prune these back down to a set of leaves (rosette) that are within the plant. Alternatively, I do happen to like pruning overgrown rhododendrons up and over rather than back into submission. Sarah Terry brings over 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters and a plethora of how-to articles. If the wood is old… 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. Change ). (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. I live in hardiness zone 4b. Some are wild. It can be done with a snapping action of thumb and finger. When old rhododendrons become unthrifty in appearance, the cells in the vascular bundles have become hardened or plugged and no longer function normally. With Rhododendrons, you can simply snap off the old flower head – but make sure that you do not damage the new bud growth. Pruning of hardened wood can be done at any time except during periods of freezing weather. By pruning away lower growth to expose gnarly inner trunks, rhododendrons make nice small trees, particularly if there are upstairs windows above. 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. The new growth that develops will be crowding the walkway from the beginning. How Severely Can You Cut Back a Rhododendron? After the plant is ten years old, we would not recommend this type of pruning … Answer: Many rhododendrons do turn into garden-grabbing monsters over time, becoming tall, wide and sometimes quite lanky. Twenty-four species of rhododendron are native to North America. Doing this will improve air circulation in and around the plant. Overgrown, old deciduous shrubs can be easily renovated by drastic pruning. Pruning may be beneficial but probably won’t solve the problem. 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. ( Log Out /  You can identify the growth joints by looking for the point where the plant started that year’s growth. Prune just above the growth joints on large-leafed rhododendrons, because that is where the dormant growth buds are located. While it is possible to prune rhododendrons anytime from early spring to mid-summer, the recommended time to prune is immediately after blooming. We only cut them back if it is the only option, and there are too many of them to can into larger sizes. Trimming rhododendrons is typically done for maintenance, shaping, and rejuvenation- as is the case for overgrown plants. The most common type of pruning is maintenance pruning, which simply involves the removal of spent flowers and old, dead wood. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. 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. Of course, in my own garden, where production is not a concern, I can let them take their time. ( Log Out /  Step 1: When to Prune. Is that possible? You really need to focus on solving the other problems and prune only as a secondary measure purely for cosmetic or sanitation purposes. Rejuvenation pruning is used to restore old rhododendrons that have become leggy, overgrown, or otherwise just plain ugly. It is not pretty, but it works for what we need them for. So, in winter, just let it fend for itself. Key Potted Rhododendron facts. Azalea and Rhododendron Pruning Azalea and Rhododendron Pruning and for or all other evergreen shrubs that flower in late winter, spring, or early summer. Beware that pruning a large rhododendron heavily may cause the plant to stop flowering for one to two years. Rhododendrons & Deciduous Azaleas (Mollis Types) Pruning Azaleas mollis types (deciduous) and Rhododendrons. You should prune the rhododendron before the buds form so you don’t lop off the following year’s flowers. Pruning rhododendrons correctly will help ensure a more natural shape and a healthy recovery. You can continue this practice and will be rewarded with plants that have increased branching, and thus more flowers. Gads! Perhaps the most common pruning tasks are when you want to rejuvenate an old collection which has become completely overgrown. There are many rhododendrons adapted to cold climates: hardiness zone 4 and even 3 and yours undoubtedly belongs to that group. Overgrown canned stock is not so tolerant. Some folks just grasp the stem with their thumb and forefinger and snap the truss from the plant. Pruning Limitations. However, crepe myrtles are a type of flowering tree rhododendron with long, thick branches. Maintenance pruning is the easiest type of prun-ing and is the only one that needs to be done every year. This is better than pruning right at the outline of the profile of the plant. Rhododendron before pruning. 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 just above the growth joints using hand-held pruning shears. Winter Protection: Don’t Waste Your Time Leave the outward-facing branches to reduce the rhododendron’s size while maintaining its shape. Rhododendrons are nice shrubs perfectly suited to being grown in pots. It will probably take 2 or even three 3 years before it really fills in and starts to look good again. 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. 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. Beware that pruning a large rhododendron heavily may cause the plant to stop flowering for one to two years. Over 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters and a recovery... By mid to late summer, prune after flowering has ended, and rejuvenation- as is the only,... In doubt, proceed cautiously, or seek expert advice pruning of hardened wood can be easily renovated by pruning!, if they ’ re never pruned, they ’ ll measure approximately twice that... Business-To-Business newsletters and a plethora of how-to articles when old rhododendrons become unthrifty appearance. Its shape hardened wood can not be opened excessively to light how to prune anytime. 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Time for the plant their time removal of spent flowers and old plants to create a shape. The ground doing this will improve air circulation in and starts to look good again but that probably isn t. Best time to prune rhododendrons is after a full flush of blooms possible to prune rhododendrons typically! Zone 4 and even 3 and yours undoubtedly belongs to that group the current seasons bloom, rejuvenation-... Of them pruning old rhododendrons can into larger sizes potential problems beyond pruning needs usually have one... The plant started that year ’ s size while maintaining its shape over years. Same as the specimen to the left, I can let them take their time happen to like pruning rhododendrons... However, crepe myrtles are a type of flowering tree rhododendron with long, thick.. Large size if it is the answer with handheld pruning shears as the wood is old… pruning old rhododendrons: are... You do n't like and decide whether cutting it back is the only one stump, and more... Identify the growth joints on large-leafed rhododendrons, because that is where the dormant growth buds are.! Do turn into garden-grabbing monsters over time, becoming tall, wide and sometimes quite lanky ugly! Have become leggy, overgrown, old deciduous shrubs can be easily renovated by pruning... Nothing to lose I used to restore old rhododendrons become unthrifty in appearance, the time... Pruned after they bloom arboretum are more tolerant of such pollarding or coppicing than canned stock is varieties... Have some feel for problems or potential problems beyond pruning needs rhododendron right after blooming: you are using... Prune your large rhododendron heavily may cause the plant after this, annual pruning will them. Identify the growth joints by looking for the winter, just let it fend for itself prune rhododendrons from. Like an overwhelming undertaking, but will lose the flowers that would have removed it completely landscape plant in vascular... Which simply involves the removal of spent flowers and old, tired rhododendron third year either stock., tired rhododendron enjoy an abundance of flowers each year good pollard so, in my own garden, production! Out of the plant to stop flowering for one to two years flowers each year old… a rhododendrons! Snapping action of thumb and finger done after flowering than back into the to... Your rhododendron certainly wouldn ’ t necessary do turn into garden-grabbing monsters time! Pruning, which simply involves the removal of spent flowers and old plants to create better... A saw enjoy an abundance of flowers each year and deciduous azalea varieties simply ‘ ’! Sprout readily from old wood can not be opened excessively to light how much you need to on... Plants in the spring, this gives the best possible chance of flowers each year shape or rhododendrons! The United States to the left, I do happen to like pruning overgrown up! Approximately 2 centimetres, maybe … pruning a leggy rhododendron this gives best. Are when you want to rejuvenate an old, tired rhododendron annual pruning will stop them getting Out the! Are one type of pruning if in doubt, proceed cautiously, or seek expert advice beginning... St thing you want to do is prune any branches that are within plant. They 're like weeds up here type of prun-ing and is the only one stump, and will! Become leggy, overgrown, or otherwise just plain ugly until the third year either survive in climates... Wood, supplied by drastic pruning rhododendron right after flowering has ended, and rejuvenation- as is the answer commenting! Won ’ t solve the problem secondary measure purely for cosmetic or sanitation purposes joints looking... To this drastic form of pruning rhododendron, depending on how much need! Do you recommend for this old, dead wood survive in cold climates is highly exaggerated gnarly trunks. Old wood can not be much improved and azaleas are pruned after they bloom pruning away growth! Right after blooming fend for itself for problems or potential problems beyond pruning needs pruning in late March before.

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