Can Rhodos be clipped like Azaleas?

newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)May 15, 2005

I have lots of Azaleas here and when a old shrub gets overgrown I just cut them back, they come back stronger than ever. As we know, they can grow new shoots anywhere on their stems. What I am wondering is if Rhodos do the same thing.

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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

No. Growth buds on rhododendrons form in the leaf axils, where leaf joins stem. Leaves are produced in clusters or rosettes at the ends of branches where they persist for several years - with a rosette at the branch terminal and others lower on the branch with bare stem between each rosette.

If you need to perform minor pruning to shape your rhododendron, make your cuts just above a leaf rosette and new growth will emerge from dormant eyes there.

If you have to cut into a branch below any leaf rosettes, look for faint rings on the bark which mark the ends of previous growth periods where there once were leaves. Careful inspection should reveal small bumps which are growth buds under the bark. Make your cuts just above the rings, so that dormant buds below them will be stimulated into growth.

If you can't find and rings or dormant buds, make your cuts wherever you must in order to shape your rhododendron; later when new growth starts, go back and remove all stubs above new growth.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 10:54PM
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I know this is an old thread, but I have a Rhododendron that is growing new leaves at the ends of each branch(which i realize is normal) but the lower parts of the branches have few to no leaves. I would like to prune it back so that the lower branches will fill in with new growth, but am afraid it would mean cutting off the few leaves on it. Also this year it should be blooming about now and i notice there are no buds at all. I'm thinking we may have pruned it last year at the wrong time and cut off all the potential flowers for this year. With that in mind, my question is, if i prune back most of the leaves now, will it fill in quickly with new growth that will produce the buds for next year, or will i not see much next year if i prune now.
Thanks for any and all help

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 3:37PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Yes it will. The rule of thumb is to not cut more than 1/3 of the leaves off, but some people are more agressive and it usually works on healthy plants.

If there is too much shade, you will always have a tall gangly plant. So in that case it is best to prune back some of the lower limbs on what ever is causing the shade or move the rhody more into the sun. They need 2 to 4 hours of sun on a typical sunny day. They like some shade in the heat of the day.

Another thing that will help get new growth is a little fertilizer. I recommend a good rhododendron and azalea fertilizer such as Hollytone once in the spring at half the rate on the package.

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

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 5:39PM
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