Basic questions

RachaelLemmon(5)May 29, 2013

Hi , I have a rhododendron that was here when I bought my home 3yrs ago. It was fairly small and appeared to be fairly young . It has grown a few feet in every direction over the 3 years and I was wondering if and when I should prune it. When it rains (which it just did) the flowers are so heavy that all branches touch the ground... Other plants I see in the area are full and don't do this. Mine seems to have long thin branches and can't support the weight , so I wondered if this is normal or am I not giving it needed pruning . I have never had one before but I would assume that it should be bushier . Ill post photos to try and show what I mean since it is heavy with water right now. Thanks in advance :-)

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Another picture

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 11:48AM
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And one from the back to show the branches .

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 11:50AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Most rhododendron trusses get heavy and droop when they are wet. If you want to make the plant more compact, you can prune it as soon as it stops blooming this spring. Then it will have time to form the buds for next springs flowers this summer. But don't be too concerned. It will only get better. The blooms that touch the ground are usually the lowest ones, and one problem people have is keeping the low branches. So think of what it would look like without them. The bottom would be bare. So you may only want to cut back ones that are too far out from the center of the plant. This will cause it to stiffen up. Or you may want to just wait and let it go.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 11:55AM
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If this is all normal and those long branches are supposed to be just that, then I am happy. Is it just young and "gangly" ? ;-) I just want to be sure that I'm not neglecting it. When it's dry , those blooms on the left in the last photo are about 3 feet off the ground . I was starting to think maybe they're going to snap.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 1:48PM
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My real concern is , does it look healthy? And the way that it should look? Thanks again for the response!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 1:51PM
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Actually it looks great! Lots and lots of blossoms. It's hard to be 100% certain from the photo, but much of the "gangliness" seems to be due to the rhododendron growing toward the direction of strongest light. All plants tend to do this and rhododendrons are no exception. You can prune, but the new shoots will continue to lean in the same way eventually. If you want, you can prop up branches with plant supports or forked sticks (which is my method). They are unobtrusive and will keep the blooms off the ground.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 5:33AM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

It looks great and you've received excellent feedback as to pruning.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 7:41AM
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Ok thank you. I see my neighbors and theirs are so full and thick , I'm jealous... But I'll be patient and let it go :)

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 10:28AM
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