How to best prune a rhodo eaten by deer

jag24April 12, 2008

This winter deer attacked a 8 ft high rhodo when we were away for a week.

All the branches they could reach were eaten.

So now there are a few branches between 5-7 ft high, and a few below 1 ft

that must have been covered by snow.

Should I just cut it all back to 1 ft high. Will it survive?

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No do not cut back that severely. Selecltively prune with what you can live with and add some acid fertilizer and possibly dig a trench around the perimeter and add compost or manure for the new roots to grow into.

Here is a link that might be useful: Propagating Perennials

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 3:00PM
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The rhodo doesn't look good without leaves in the middle. Those branches don't show any signs of life.
How can I tell if the middle section (1ft - 5ft) Will fill back in next year if I leave it?
Pruning it back to 1 ft would only be removing half of the current leaves.

The fertilizing is good suggestion - I have don it most years in the spring

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 4:37PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Rhododendrons have dormant buds under the bark. If you prune the top and other existing branches back a little, it will stimulate a lot of new growth. It will eventually fill in. Make sure you protect it with deer netting next winter. If it is hit like this 2 year in a row, it will have used up its reserves and will seriously suffer. One year of deer damage is normally not a serious problem. A mature rhododendron can take a year with a drought or deer damage but two in a row is bad news.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to grow rhododendrons and azaleas.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 6:42PM
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