pruning bloom buds before they open
I have had this rhododendron and another one I already lost, since last Spring. It's been a very difficult time for the plant. I have read quite a lot on rhododendrons and will certainly give up on them if this plant does not make it. Possible reasons it didn't make it: the root ball was extremely compacted and tight and though I'm usually very liberal at hacking away at tight root balls, I felt like I should not disturb this one; or: soil seetting is rather clay like and drainage probably poor. I also read I was incorrect to give it organic plant food (bone mreal and bloodmeal when planting. The plants were not planted too deeply. The plant is in solid shade until well into afternoon in the summer and in the spring it stays in shade until as late as 3; After the sun gets to it it stays in sun around three hours. The reaming plant lost half of it's arms this spring after going through the winter. The plant was not underwatered, but then the root ball was quite compacted. Well, now the plant is in a new raised planting with quality, plain, top soil with no plant food in the soil. Before planting I hosed off all the clay that got into it and the root ball was breaking up nicely. The remaining leaves and branches at this point do not look too bad, but leaves are a little droopy. It has very hard buds on it that set before the winter, I don't know if that's the normal pattern, but they are very woody and some malformed so I wonder if they will open. This is my question: for a stressed rhododendron that may well altogether fail this season, is it helpful to remove all the buds now and let it pass without flowering, or would this just be more stress? Of course any other feedback is welcomed.