getting rid of suckers

Lysa(z5)October 3, 2005

I have a rhodo on the side of my house that must have been, at one point, about 7 feet wide out from the house. It has been trimmed back over the years by former owners then I pruned the bottom up to about 3 feet from the ground to make it more tree-like.

The problem is the shallow roots still extend to about 7 feet from the house and produce suckers along the root. I have since cut some of these out then stopped not knowing if I was killing the main trunk and branches.

See, I'd like to plant something in the bed around this rhodo but will ahve trouble with these shallow roots and suckers.

Can I dig these up an cut them out? Is the main root system deeper and under the main trunk?

Please help with some advice... Thanks!

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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

No, the roots are not deeper than a couple inches. All of the roots are shallow. No, you can not cut out these shallow roots.

The big mistake was cutting out the lower branches, since you can't plant anything under the rhododendron.

Probably the easiest solution is to let some of the suckers grow and fill in under the plant. They will grow true to the parent plant, at least if you are in the USA where grafted rhododendrons are very rare. If you are in the Europe, then it probably is grafted and would not come true.

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

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 10:56AM
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Thank you, Rhodyman! I pruned back aggressively at the base og this rhody because the former owners of the house had started the process but never finished it. It was scraggly to say the least, very leggy and old branches with only a few leaves at the ends. I know I kinda went crazy but it was my first pruning job.

I'm thinking that since I probably won't be able to plant anything over and around these roots that I'll just lower some containers of impatients or coleus or something a few inches into the ground.

The last owners of my house highly neglected all the plants and shrubs in the yard resulting in me having to prune or replace (dried out and overgrown) a lot and nurse others back to health. As this is my first garden and this particular rhodo was the first I pruned, I hope it does ok next year. Based on the buds, I think it'll be alright.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 1:28PM
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