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Newbie needs help with Old Rhodo

Posted by willtogrow 6 (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 24, 13 at 12:20

Hi all,
I am new to this forum.. moved into a lovely old home about 5 years ago. Everyplant is very old. The Rhododendrons in front of my house were fine for a few years, but now they are very leggy and bark is crusty and grey and I guess dying. I am not good at gardening, but wonder if I can cut the stems of the shrub down to 6" above grown and will they grow back? Some of the flowers do open and are beautiful, but stems are getting grey and woody. many thanks.
I live in Fairfield County, CT.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Newbie needs help with Old Rhodo

All rhododendrons develop woody stems with age. The photo shows nothing that would indicate this one is dying. In fact, it looks perfectly normal and healthy.

Usually old rhododendrons become leggy and produce only sparse blooms because they have become increasingly shaded by other plants over time. Increasing the amount of sunlight they receive by cutting back the growth that's shading them is the best cure. A soil test would also reveal any nutritional problems, although old rhododendrons with extensive root system rarely need fertilizer.

Radically cutting back an old rhododendron is an iffy proposition. Sometimes it works fine, especially if the plant receives enough sun, but it can also fail miserably. A safer course would be to cut back 1/3 and see how it goes. If it sprouts from the pruned areas, prune another 1/3 the followinng year, etc. It will, however, be many years before you're likely to see much bloom.

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