Newbie looking for help with shrubs

agurkas(5)June 16, 2014

So around the house we just bought previous owner just went hog wild and planted shrubs pictured below right next to the house. One side of the house is basically mosquito breeding central thanks to these.

Question 1: what is this shrub
Question 2: is it worth relocating it and planting it somewhere else and if so, how? I am inclined to just get rid them.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)


They are Rhododendrons. They have beautiful flowers every spring. Mine just finished blooming last week. If you search online you can find photos showing the variety of colors and types that are grown. However, although it's hard to be sure from your photo, it looks like they may not have bloomed this year. That usually means that someone trimmed them back late in the season LAST year. The cycle for these plants is like most spring-blooming plants, that is that they bloom in spring, then grown new stems and leaves and then start to form the buds for the following year's blooms. Those buds then sit all winter and wait for spring, and bloom and start the cycle again. So if anyone cuts or trims later in the season (maybe July or later?) you're cutting off the following spring's flowers.

In any case, if they're not too big, they are definitely worth moving. The love a little shade if you have it, but they will grow in full sun if they have to.

I hope this was helpful.


This post was edited by bill_ri_z6b on Mon, Jun 16, 14 at 4:24

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 3:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Rhododendrons have shallow roots and so moving them isn't difficult. In the link below there are directions from the rhododendron and azalea forum, and though they say azalea, that is just a kind of rhododendron. I would definitely suggest moving them since they provide great evergreen interest and can provide good visual privacy or shelter from things you'd rather not have to look at. They can get quite large (15'x15') so keep that in mind.

The mosquitos probably aren't breeding there since they need standing water or saturated soil to breed (neither of which rhodies like), but perhaps are sheltering there, and moving the shrubs away from the building will both reduce their value as mosquito shelter and help your house since having shrubs right against the house isn't good for the building or trying to maintain it. If you decide to plant something near the house to replace them, give yourself enough room that the ultimate size of the plant will give you enough room to walk between the house and the plants.

Here is a link that might be useful: Moving rhododendrons

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 8:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Bill and nhbabs have covered the essential information already. I'll just say that I hope you keep the rhododendrons in your yard by moving them somewhere appropriate. They're wonderful shrubs year-round.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 10:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree with everything that's been said, but want to add that those are some incredibly healthy, happy looking rhodies!

If mine looked like that, I'd be thrilled - mine are also the previous owner's choice, and are also close to the house, but not very healthy. I keep them because I love the color, which is a deep red, and I especially LOVE that I can see the flowers from inside the house - the dining room and living room are awash in glowing, deep red when those are in bloom.

Mine are suffering from black vine weevils, which chew on the roots in winter and on the leaves in summer. It takes a LONG time for rhodies to reach the size that yours are, so be careful when you move them. Definitely don't discard them, please.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 12:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I agree, that is one gorgeous rhodie. No nibbled -notched leaves from weevils, no brown leaves from too much sun, no yellowed leaves from poor drainage.

Please keep it, don't prune it and let it bloom next year, and find the real source of the mosquitoes: standing water (even a half inch). If you still have no affection for it next year after it blooms, just say so here and I bet you'll have volunteers who'll come dig it out for you.

Hope you enjoy the New England Forum. We're a pretty mellow group.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 8:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
diggerdee zone 6 CT

Ah, this post is making me sad. After years of putting it off, I finally decided this would be the year I try to move the 15-foot-tall rhodie in front of my living room picture window. The rhodie that is planted about a foot and a half from my cinderblock foundation.

I've been putting it off because I LOVE this thing, and I even looked into having it professionally moved (with some similarly tall pieris planted with it - what WERE the original owners thinking?!) but it was way too expensive.

So I am going to try to move it, but I had planned on cutting it WAY back. Now I'm reading in the link above NOT to cut it back. There is no way on earth I can move this without cutting it. I did try to take some cuttings to root (I posted here last year about that) but they didn't take. I'm going to try again before moving it. I'd love to have one (or a few) small plant from this before moving it, in case it doesn't make it.

agurkas, I hope you keep yours and enjoy them!

(nhbabs, I just noticed the rainbow in your photo! Gee, I looked at it 4 times before I saw it. Nice!)

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 9:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

for a $15 plant.. i wouldnt work that hard at moving a plant that LOOKS like it is as tall as the eaves ...

i would just buy a new one ... and get rid of this.. as i have a very low tolerance for squeeters ...

of course.. you could spray the interior with a proper chemical.. to take away their hiding place ... 20 years ago.. i THINK malathion was labeled for such ... but i am not current on that ... i used it on the interiors of all the shrubs around the yard ... but peeps these days dont like that idea ...

and now i live in the country.. and the shrub closest to the house is at least 20 feet away ... so i solved my problem of relying on chems ...

hi ida ...

good luck... work smart.. not hard ... i am too old to be digging 3 or 4 foot root balls.. and draggin them across the yard ... etc ... cut at ground level.. and be done with it ... of course.. if you have a budget to hire some strapping young men who know what they are doing.. thats a whole other ball of wax ...


    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 9:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Having the lot line of my entire back yard under the dripline of neighbor's trees, I can attest to how difficult it can be to take a small shrub and get it planted in the root zone and to see it actually grow to any useful size. So it's not always easy to start over. And it takes a long time to get a Rhodie to that size. And to buy one even half that size costs a lot of money.

Also, I have to agree with Marie, that is a gorgeous, healthy Rhododendron [s]. I don't find it easy to grow one to look that good. Conditions have to be just about ideal for that to happen and I wouldn't be surprised if someone hasn't been taking good care of it.

I also am not really understanding this idea that the shrub is somehow responsible for mosquito breeding?

I agree with Marie, again, that, if you have just bought this house and have not seen it bloom, I would hold off on doing anything with the shrub until after it blooms next year when you will be better able to decide whether you want it or not. I'm sure if you just bought a house, then you will have plenty of other things to keep you busy until then. [g]

If you don't want to wait, I would say get three people to help you move them.

I'm surprised, Jane hasn't posted here. Jane [corunum] had some huge Rhododendrons that she moved successfully. I would talk to her.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 2:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Diggerdee, we successfully moved a substantial rhodie last fall. Not as big as yours, but about 6 feet tall by 10 feet around. I trimmed it back pretty aggressively beforehand -- probably took about a quarter of it off. Took all afternoon to dig the root ball out -- they've got shockingly shallow roots, but it's a big bush. We asked some friends over, and it took four strong guys to drag it across the yard. Did a little more trimming after we got it in place, since some branches had gotten mangled in the move.

It's doing fine now, with lots of new growth, and it put on a decent flower show this spring. Hardest part was digging it out and then getting it up out of the hole we'd dug. You probably want professional help for something as big as yours. From what I've read, you do want to trim it back beforehand so the stressed roots have less foliage to support after you move it, and you probably want to wait until fall when it'll be cooler. They're really tough plants though, and not hard to transplant.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 8:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I didn't find it difficult to transplant my mom's big rhodie, and that was in another town! I had my brother help me a little with the digging and loading into my car.

I didn't trim anything back, as I've heard that's the latest trend these days in transplanting. It flowered fine this year and is putting out new leaves. It kind of was semi-abandoned in my mother's yard so it needed a little rehab, anyway. It's probably about six feet tall and five feet wide, and had self-rooted to form a shorter version.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 9:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
corunum z6 CT(6)

Quoting agurkas, "I am inclined to just get rid them." And you certainly can because you own them. Does your inclination to axe them mean that you visually prefer less in a garden? Do you prefer smaller shrubs spaced well apart versus a line of bushy evergreens? What type of house foundation planting 'look' do you want? Check the neighborhood, books and Google images to see what looks right to you. Bill is correct in that yours were pruned later last year; the new growth is very obvious and healthy.

Yours look like roseum elegans rhododendrons that are very hardy and almost steadfast in New England. They can live for a 100 years so I was told by a parks manager. I have them planted as foundational plantings on two sides of my house in stone wall raised beds along with Cunningham White Rhododendrons, azaleas and French lilacs. I put the rhodies in 35 years ago and yes, they are away from the house about 20" or so. My house was painted 2 weeks ago and no branches had to be cut. I've been told on this forum that it was a sin to put large-growing bushes next to a house then prune them to a size so I can see out my windows. To that I say exactly what I said in the beginning to you: It's yours, you get to do what you want. But as someone who wants evergreen foundational plantings that forgive pruning every 2 years, shrubs that survive snow being dumped on them from snow raking the roof and plants that can live in front of a light-colored house in Western exposure, nothing can replace my rhododendrons. To me, yours just need a haircut and that's what I'd do because that IS what I do. When I lost six 80' tall white pines as a border on my property, I paid to have mature roseum elegans transported and planted where the pines once stood. They are now interlaced with ornamental trees and the border works. Just have a look at other foundational plantings and see what visually appeals to you. The fact that you've asked the question here, indicates to me that you may be willing to NOT throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is no wrong answer. You can learn online how to prune them. Won't hurt to give them a haircut now and see what you think about a shorter look. If you do take them out, what would you choose to replace them? No need to answer, just food for thought. The owner should be pleased with the new castle and I suggest reducing the rhodies height to just even with your window sill before axing or even trying to move them. Take a look from a distance away and see what you think after the haircut. You can clip the branches in between the back of the shrub and the house to allow more air circulation. Mature rhodies are not that easy to transplant IMO. Way more info than you asked for, but I'm a rhododendron lover - despite my need to prune.

(edited for window height suggestion)

This post was edited by corunum on Tue, Jun...

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 10:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

I'm with Jane 100%: prune them first and see what you've got to work with. Then make your decision.

I have two rhododendrons that I've been training to stay approximately equal height with my fence. I ultimately would like to remove the fence once my border of shrubs fills in, and rhododendrons do a nice job of bushing out when they're pruned. The pruning also seems to encourage more flowers on the bushes I keep.

If you take a ride into the smaller villages of Cape Cod, for instance, Woods Hole, you'll witness some pretty impressive rhododendrons. I'm talking, small forests or at least "tree-size" rhododendrons flanking houses and driveways. If you CAN move this bush, or choose to remove it from the spot it's in, why not make it the centerpiece of your yard? Or, add it to the back or side yard to transition into a wooded area?

I'm posting a photo of my back yard so you can see an example of a pruned habit. From back to front/right, I grow forsythia (majorly pruned), rhododendron (pruned), pieris (unpruned, stays small for me), rhododendron (pruned again). The rhododendrons get pruned once every year, and that's when the flowers are spent and look brown. I will cut the dead wood or dying wood off at this time, as well as any suckers or unwanted branches that would affect the shape I'm building. Then I leave them alone until next year!!!

They can also grow into valley-forests or dells, by colonizing and growing to massive heights. Search google images for the Dunedin Rhododendron Dell, one of my favorite places to take study breaks while at university there.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dunedin Botanic Gardens

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 11:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
diggerdee zone 6 CT

Ah, Jane, every time you post a photo of that absolutely charming house of yours, it makes me wish I had gone with yellow siding for my cape, like I wanted to. Why do I let myself get talked out of things?

Nekobus, thanks for the encouraging words. I think I will cut back the rhodie now, by at least half if not more, and give it the season to recover before moving it in the fall. My biggest worry is digging it out - as I said, it's about a foot and a half from the foundation in soil packed as hard as concrete. Won't be all that easy!

Persimmons, what a nice, neat border. I too would do this to my monster rhodie and pierises, if only the original owner had thought to plant them farther out from the foundation than a foot and a half!


    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 2:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Since roots are shallow and hard labor does not scare me (I power lift three time per week), I should be fine.

I have an acre of land and plenty of shade below tall trees. I love plants... just not next to my windows killing any light and inviting bugs in. These are all around the house and cover 3/4 of the window line. On one side of the house they got to be at leas 8 foot tall.

Do you think they would prefer to be planted under 200+ year old oak trees or same age pine?

I assume moving them kills the chance of them blooming next spring?

This post was edited by agurkas on Tue, Jun 17, 14 at 21:17

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 9:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Either will be fine, since Rhododendrons prefer acidic soil, and both oak and pine add some acidity to the soil. So you might just want to put them where they would look best and can be enjoyed when in bloom.
I think that if you keep them well watered after moving, they will bloom OK next year, since the buds will start forming now. Don't be alarmed if the new growth wilts a bit during hot weather. As long as it recovers when it cools off, they should be fine. There could be somewhat less of a show next spring, but I think you'll get some flowers.

Good luck with the move!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 4:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Another reason for me to move these - ticks. For Pete's sake, all I did yesterday was get out of the car, take some pictures by the plants, and then get into the house to meet a contractor. Got home later that day and had a tick in my back.

If I move these away from the house, wouldn't that reduce tick habitat by the house?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 9:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i was just playing devils advocate.. do whatever makes you happy .. and is within your physical capabilities ...

i just didnt want you to feel like the rest of them were giving you a guilt trip ... should you have not really wanted them...

they are your plants.. in your yard... and if you are not entirely in love with them.. KILL THEM ... in a real gardeners head.. a dead plant .. is a space for a new plant .. its opportunity ... but to many non-gardeners/newbs ..... its a guilt thing.. i cant kill that.. pshaw.. whos garden is it anyway .... if its the wrong plant.. i the wrong space.. move it.. or be done with it ...

someone above said: I also am not really understanding this idea that the shrub is somehow responsible for mosquito breeding?

==>>> they have nothing to do with BREEDING ... its all about where they hide in the heat of the day .... on a hot day.. you really dont find them... hovering out on a sunny lawn ... its when you walk into the shade.. where they have congregated .. and are waiting for you ... remove the daytime hiding places ... in this case the interior of a huge bush ...... and you will have less at night ... they arent that big an insect.. that they are traveling miles to find you sitting on the patio ...

good luck.. i am off back to the midwest ... lol


ps: since you are new to the garden ... also look for any and all standing water.. and eradicate such.. that is where they breed ....

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 9:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you have standing water that can't be eliminated such as a pond or vernal pool, look for mosquito dunks at one of the big box stores or your local farm and garden store. They get dropped into standing water and release a bacteria that infects mosquito larvae and only mosquito larvae. It won't totally eliminate mosquitoes, but it will radically cut back on them since most won't ever reach adulthood. There is a granulated formula which I occasionally use on small areas, but the donut shaped dunks are easier to toss into the water. Since the dying larvae are constantly releasing more bacteria into the water, one application lasts the season IME.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 9:15AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Annie_NH Plant Swap June 2014
Annie will be having her plant swap on June 1st. I...
Yes, I know you think they're just cute little white...
Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b
Web design resources: blogs & designer websites
I have two garden-related confessions to make today...
Tropical Houseplants in CT
Besides Logee's, are there any other nurseries that...
Historic winter of 2014-2015---Damage report
I thought we could start a thread to outline the casualties...
Sponsored Products
Indoor Ceiling Fans: Hampton Bay Devereaux II 52 in. Oil Rubbed Bronze Ceiling F
Home Depot
Ranauculus & Sylvia Wreath
$29.99 | zulily
Uttermost Oristano Fluted Mercury Glass Table Lamp
Lamps Plus
Hand-tufted Runway Denim/ Light Brown Wool Rug (9'6x13')
Colonial Mills Market Mix Storage Basket - 18 diam. x 12 in. - MM01A018X018
$89.99 | Hayneedle
Harbour Point 2-Light Wall Sconce by Minka-Lavery
$99.90 | Lumens
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™