Rhodie pruning

rvermarJuly 1, 2008

OK I havenever owned a rhododendron before, but they are all over the place here in my town. I have a smallish white one that's about done blooming. When to prune it and how??

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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Rhododendron set their flower buds for the next Spring during Summer - any pruning should be done immediately after flowering so as not to remove the flower buds. Regular pruning of rhododendron isn't necessary though when they are planted in the right place...what is it you feel you would like to accomplish by pruning yours?

If your plant is young and small, you will want to deadhead the spent flowers. Rhododendron will put an enormous amount of energy into setting seed if not deadheaded when that energy would otherwise be directed into flower buds - on young plants especially that can lead to heavy flowering every other year rather than each Spring.

Snap the spent flower structure off with your fingers, no pruners required, being careful not to break the new foliage buds at the base of the spent flower.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 11:07AM
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rvermar

Thanks for the advice. The rhodie is next to the house, in front, by a pathway. It looks kind of sad and leggy (tho small) and lower branches are reaching out to the pathway. The previous owner planted LOTS of shrubs and flowers, all too close to each other, and they are trying to take over the world!! I just wanted to get a jump on this one and maybe rejuvenate it at the same time. I've been feeding it with azalea/rhodie fertilizer and a little Epsom salts, trying to green it up a bit...

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 4:30PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

rvermar, rhododendrons often need no fertilzer in our naturally acidic soil...they have low nutritional requirements compared to most shrubs. Could it be in too much shade, or not have received supplemental water in our dry late summer/early fall months?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 5:13PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

If it is not too huge and you'd like to move it to a more useful site then Rhododendrons can be 'easy' to shift. They have a fibrous root system and very few big roots. If it is under four foot high and around, that may be an option.

You'd have to be prepared to move it with a decent amount of soil around its roots and water it well a few days before so it can take up the moisture. Enough water to hold the soil together without making it all impossibly heavy to move.

If it's put out onto a tarpauline or drag sheet then it is not too hard to move it across grass or brief stretches of hard paving.
And prepare the new site well in advance with good compost mixed in with the soil. A deep 'saucer' hole is probably better than a deep 'bucket' hole.

Many Rhododendrons will sprout again from old wood - as will Camellias, particularly if they have enough water and a refreshing mulch of good compost. Old maple, oak, pine leaves mixed with steer manure and aged for a year would be useful on most soils. (You shouldn't be able to identify the ingredients. Just a moist, crumbly and sweet smelling 'dirt'.)

Expect it to take several years to become fully established in its new site. If you get severe winds, a stake or two could be useful.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 6:34AM
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rvermar

morz8, thanks for the tips. I bought this house in January so I don't know if the rhodie got water last year. It's kind of yellow, but the newer leaves look healthy. It's in about the same exposure as gorgeous ones that live next door, so light is probably OK. I have pruned the offending branches back, removed the spent blooms, and will make sure to give it water when/IF??? it ever dries up around here!! LOL

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 12:18PM
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