Rhododendrons and azaleas offer a wide range of flower colors in the spring and have become popular landscape plants in Maryland. By pruning just above viable dormant buds, new healthy growth can be directed to obtain a more desirable shape. It’s best to space severe pruning over several years. You can cut back woody branches into areas where no leaves or lower twigs exist. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. Weak or sickly plants are best replaced. Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet or soggy. Figure out how many branches you need to cut, and just do 1/3 of them. rhododendrons are a group of hybrid culitvar shrubs created by breeding Rhododendron carolinianum with R. dauricum var. There are evergreen and deciduous forms of both. He has worked professionally at gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. PRUNING RHODODENDRONS BY PINCHING BACK NEW GROWTH. Any severe pruning of these plants should be done in March or April. These plants should be pruned in late spring, after they have flowered. Trees and Shrubs forum: Rhododendron Rejuvenation Pruning. Pruning a rhododendron is normally done for maintenance, shaping, and rejuvenation. In severe cases, you can sometimes cut your rhododendron to within 6 inches of the ground. Severe Pruning of Rhododendron When They Are Too Big. A healthy plant can be cut to the ground and will usually come back. Her home-and-garden and nature articles have appeared in "Birds & Blooms" and "Alamance Today." This eliminates any potential for flowers that year, but gives the plant the longest growing season to develop new growth and mature before the onset of autumn frosts and freezes. If pruning for size reduction, the best time is just after blooming or when growth buds start to become active. Improving the soil before replanting will get a healthy young plant off to a good start. You can cut back woody branches into areas where no leaves or lower twigs exist. Pruning rhododendrons requires accurate timing. Rhododendrons should be healthy before you prune. Rejuvenation pruning is best used to restore shrubs that have become leggy, overgrown, or otherwise unattractive. Pruning them too early will interfere with the budding for this season and pruning them too late will interfere with the next season. This eliminates any potential for flowers that year, but gives the plant the longest growing season to develop new growth and mature before the onset of autumn frosts and freezes. Rhododendrons which you should not prune As a rough rule, varieties with a smooth bark such as R. thomsonii, R. barbatum as well as most of the large-leaved species such as R. sinogrande are reluctant to respond to being cut back to the trunk. For example, cut half of the branches back to 30 cm (12 inches), with the other branches cut back to 50 cm (20 inches). Look for branches laying on the ground, dead branches that no longer have leaves or flowers, and those that have few leaves. Their adventitious buds at the base of the plant will send up new shoots, but keep in mind that flowering usually will not occur for up to two or three years after this heavy pruning. Restoring overgrown rhododendrons (Article by Alison Marsden of Gardening by Design - Advice, coaching, design & teaching in West Kent & East Sussex) Evergreen, large leaved Rhododendrons make a fantastic display in May and June but not all of us can let ours grow as large as this superb specimen at Riverhill Himalayan Gardens near Sevenoaks in Kent. This is better than pruning right at the outline of the profile of the plant. Keep the soil moist during the period after severe pruning. Remove dead, diseased, or broken branches at any time. The larger-leafed rhododendrons have many dormant buds that can be forced into new growth. Remove dead wood regularly. The final thing you want to do is to pinch or snap off the new growth back when it’s a couple of inches long. Once again, if you have chosen a dwarf variety, pruning just boils down to simple maintenance. Prune rhododendrons after flowering in spring to shape the shrub and reduce the height. Severe pruning means that you cut the entire rhododendron down to the primary branches of the shrub, as low as 6 inches off the ground, if possible. If your large rhododendron is growing out of control and starting to look like a mess, you’ve got some pruning to do. Thin out new shoots emerging from the old stem. It can be brought into the landscape on infected plants and can be severe on plants grown under overhead sprinkler irrigation. When pruning is done either on the tip or the sides, cuts should not be made into the dead zone. Rhododendron shrubs provide some of the most beautiful flower clusters in the mid- to late spring garden, making them prized plants in partially shaded landscapes all across the temperate UK. Once the dormant buds on the rhododendron stumps flush out new leafy twigs, evaluate the quality of the growth and thin them out. A severely pruned rhododendron is susceptible to insect and disease problems. The easiest style of pruning is trimming off any dead or dying parts of your rhododendron with pruning shears. Rhododendron pruning usually is conducted immediately after the flowering season ends, but no later than mid-June. Before you prune your azaleas, make sure to disinfect your pruning shears by wiping them with down with some bleach or rubbing alcohol. above the ground and allowing it to regrow. How to Shape a Camellia Japonica Pink Perfection Plant, Fine Gardening: 3 Ways to Prune Rhododendrons, Journal American Rhododendron Society: More About Pruning Rhododendrons, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension: Growing Rhododendrons and Azaleas, Washington State University Extension: Renovating the Rhododendron Jungle. From your photos, some longest stems appear to be bare except for a few leaves at the terminal end. Many times, gardeners inherit a wealth of shrubs in their gardens when they purchase a previously owned residence. After severe pruning it is important to keep the plant well watered and lightly fertilized for the first growing season . Because severe pruning prevents flowering the following year, you don't have to worry about preserving the flower buds, and it's best to prune as early as possible. Any severe pruning of these plants should be done in March or April. It may be salvaged. Drastic pruning can also be called rejuvenation pruning. I plan on doing some rejuvenation pruning and cutting it back so it is only about 6 feet tall. Rhododendrons and azaleas have dormant buds beneath the bark which sprout to form new growth after severe pruning. Prune these back down to a set of leaves (rosette) that are within the plant. I have a rhododendron in my front yard that is completely overgrown to the point that it is taller than the lowest point of my roof. By midsummer, cut out tight thickets of twigs atop stumps, retaining three to five of the most vigorous shoots. Generally, most rhododendrons handle moderate pruning well. In the spring, cut off any dead or damaged branches to encourage new growth. Unfortunately, lack of proper pruning while the shrub is young can lead overgrown shrubs with thick, gnarled, misshapen branches, and the only solution is severe pruning that allows the shrub to regrow. However, very little pruning is required. In severe winter conditions, wrap evergreen rhododendrons with burlap and during fall, apply extra mulch around the base of the plant. A rhododendron shrub needs extra care for the first year or two after severe pruning. Pruning: Winter, spring and early summer-flowering evergreens such as Rhododendron and Camellia are best left unpruned except for removal of unsightly shoots and deadheading, unless some shaping is required. Pruning them too early will interfere with the budding for this season and pruning them too late will interfere with the next season. Rhododendron before pruning. Jackie Carroll has been a freelance writer since 1995. Rhododendrons flower on the prior year's wood. That being said, rhodies have been known to withstand severe renovation pruning and sprout back. American Rhododendron Society: Pruning and dead-heading, PennLive: Drastic pruning of too-big rhododendrons. Protect exposed plants in cold climates by driving four stakes around the shrub and wrapping burlap around the stakes to buffer the drying winds. Remove rhododendron flower stems as soon as flowering ends. It is when a more severe pruning is required, cutting back to a bare trunk, that results vary considerably. Common Problems & Solutions Like many other plants, Rhododendrons can be affected by a variety of pests, diseases or problems. And our guide to Azalea and Rhododendron Maintenance. As long as an old, leggy rhododendron is not weakened by a disease, it tolerates and responds very well to a severe pruning, more commonly called a rejuvenation pruning by horticulturists. You can, however, start the process. The 1 st thing you want to do is prune any branches that are sticking out of the outline profile of the plant. Rhododendrons should be healthy before you prune. Cut the branches 1/2 to 3/4 inch above a bud that is facing the direction in which you would like the branch to grow. Keep a close eye on the shrub and treat insect and disease problems as soon as you see them. They generally grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. Watering potted rhododendron With age (some live 80 years) or limited light, rhododendrons can become leggy. Another more severe type of rejuvenation pruning involves cutting the main branches (trunks) to a point 6 inches or so above the ground. When pruning large Rhododendron, pruning can be a general shaping or shearing of the plants or it can be a severe pruning that significantly reduces the size of the plant. Rejuvenation pruning is best used to restore shrubs that have become leggy, overgrown, or otherwise unattractive. If a rhododendron is not in too much shade, it can be cut back severely and will come back from the base. Pruning potted rhododendron. Problems When catastrophe strikes and a large plant is broken or otherwise severly injured, don't despair. Pruning either plant from the inner branches outward helps it stay healthy if the plant becomes overgrown or when inner stems appear spindly and weak. It is when a more severe pruning is required, cutting back to a bare trunk, that results vary considerably. However, Richard Colbert reported that such attempts at Tyler Arboretum were only successful if the plant had enough sun light. Copyright 2020 Leaf Group Ltd. / Leaf Group Media, All Rights Reserved. Rhododendrons respond well to pruning and you can cut back in mid summer after flowering. Pruning rhododendrons requires accurate timing. Photo: Pixabay ... Plants can be pruned back severely if needed since dormant lateral buds will initiate new growth after pruning. Rhododendrons (Rhododendron spp.) Many rhododendron species and hybrids can be … which may have interacted with the pruning itself. Rhododendrons can tolerate severe pruning at any time of year as long as you are willing to wait a year or two for them to re-flower. It is important to remove the flower stems from the shrub once blooming has stopped. This is a good rule of thumb for any shrub or tree that needs a severe pruning. Prune your rhododendron in the summer immediately after the bloom cycle has ended. Pruning: Pruning rhododendrons and azaleas is often unnecessary in eastern Washington, except to remove dead, dying or diseased branches, which can be done at any time. Some of the common ones include: Light Yellow Leaves with Brownish Burned Areas Sunburn. Jacob J. Wright became a full-time writer in 2008, with articles appearing on various websites. Step 1 - wait until the flowers die off in the spring to prune. Severe pruning may result in growth from below the scion, which should be removed. The best way to develop good plants is to pinch out young buds when the plants are small as this can help develop a bushy plant. Other times risk being too early or too late. Step 2 - cut off dead branches and stems from the shrub. It's easier on the plant and will look better if you plan on pruning it back over a 3 year time period. How to Deadhead Rhododendrons … Fertilize lightly with a fertilizer that contains more phosphorus than nitrogen. Cut away the branches with sharp, sanitized pruning … Initially, they make look a bit of an eye sore with bare wood but fairly soon the Rhododendron will produce fresh new growth. They generally grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. Both rhododendrons and azaleas tend to produce twiggy growth in the areas closest to the center of the plant, not visible from afar. Photo: properlandscaping.com. The stumps left after pruning may range in length from 15 to 75 cm (6 to 30 inches). Apr 12, 2015 - Rhododendrons & Severe Pruning. Therefore, the best time to prune Rhododendrons is immediately after they flower. As long as an old, leggy rhododendron is not weakened by a disease, it tolerates and responds very well to a severe pruning, more commonly called a rejuvenation pruning by horticulturists. lopsided or misshapen, with long, barren branches, few leaves and few flowers. It is worth trying to propagate older shrubs or plants of sentimental value before heavy pruning in case they do not recover. Dead leaves will look yellow or brown, and dead branches will be crispy and snap easily. Photo: Pixabay. Additional details on pruning rhododendrons can be obtained from these sources: The American Rhododendron Society. These little dots are latent buds that grow into lateral branches after you make your cuts. The disadvantages of this type of pruning are that not all shrubs tolerate drastic cutting, and, until the plant regrows, you are left with an unsightly stub. Maintenance pruning is the removal of spent flowers and old, dead wood. The best time to do it is in the winter. Sometimes more severe pruning may be required, cutting to about 6 inches or so from the ground. This is the key step to developing the dense bushy plant that you are after. Prune Bridal Wreath and Snowmound Spiraeas→. Rejuvenation Pruning. have an attractive, natural shape that may lead you to believe they don't need regular pruning. Pruning in late winter or early spring gives the shrub a long growing season to recover. Many plants will recover from this drastic pruning but not all will survive. The rhododendron is a well-disciplined flowering shrub that will need little in the way of trimming or pruning to maintain its shape and profuse blooming. You should prune the rhododendron before the buds form so you don’t lop off the following year’s flowers. First, the ideal time to do undertake rejuvenation pruning is not after flowering (that’s when you do light pruning), but rather early in the spring, before the start of the growing season. This timing preserves the buds that already formed for next year's flowers. Many rhododendron species and hybrids can be … On the other hand, if your rhododendron is more than 3 years old, a severe pruning back to within a few inches of the ground will tend to revitalize it, shooting new branches loaded with buds outward once more. This is easy as 1-2-3, and why azaleas and rhododendrons are considered low maintenance. Cutting back a rhododendron leaves little more than stubs… but don’t worry, it will grow back. clg897 Mar 12, 2018 10:07 AM CST. The usual time to prune a rhododendron shrub is after the flowers fade. P.J.M. Rhododendrons (Rhododendron spp.) Rhododendrons respond to pruning if they become too large so they can be cut back. I have a rhododendron in my front yard that is completely overgrown to the point that it is taller than the lowest point of my roof. To reduce shrub size, wait for the end of the summer and cut just above a bud so it will split into multiple branches. A healthy plant can be cut to the ground and will usually come back. Overgrown arborvitae cannot be pruned back more than 20 percent. Fine Gardening: Three Ways to Prune Rhododendrons. After renewal pruning, prune the tips of new shoots when they are 6 to 12 inches long, to encourage branching and a full canopy. Don't go overboard; just … PRUNING RHODODENDRON TO A PROFILE. Severe pruning is not uncommon with rhododendrons and azaleas. Choose young growth for propagation material. It is worth trying to propagate older shrubs or plants of sentimental value before heavy pruning in case they do not recover. Pruning to salvage. Rhododendron in bloom. have an attractive, natural shape that may lead you to believe they don't need regular pruning. These shrubs rejuvenate if given a severe pruning, which encourages dormant buds to sprout and develop new, vigorous growth. Timing preserves the buds that grow into lateral branches after you make your cuts branches so the growth... 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To a main branch to let air and light evenly surround each newly growing branch rhododendron... And stems from the shrub once blooming has stopped inch above a bud that is facing direction! Fertilizer that contains more phosphorus than nitrogen as soon as flowering ends,. Yellow or brown, and so on key step to developing the dense bushy plant that you after... Tiny pink dots on the remaining shoots, and rejuvenation lateral buds will initiate new growth creates multitiered. Rhododendrons respond well to pruning if they become too large so they can be back! Tall, leggy plants should be removed bare except for a few leaves this severely, examine the once., any limbs that cross or rub and any dead or damaged branches to healthy! Out a single long new shoots emerging from the ground, dead branches that no longer leaves..., diseased, or otherwise unattractive are evenly spaced on the plant ones include: light yellow leaves Brownish!, requiring cutting to about 6 inches of the most vigorous shoots from drastic! Be done in the spring, cut off any dead or damaged branches cm. areas. Plant to focus energy on the rhododendron blooms to encourage new growth vary... Sun light do another third, and those that have few leaves and few flowers, Minnesota new! Thin them out to be cut to the end best way to prune when the plant called branches! In late March, before the buds form so you don ’ t lop off following. That needs a severe pruning results vary considerably many plants will recover from this drastic pruning of when. Sprout to form new growth dying parts of your rhododendron with pruning shears without harming the shrub to. Watering potted rhododendron Therefore, the best way to prune a well-established rhododendron is from the old.. Soon as you see them, if you have chosen a dwarf variety pruning! Right after the blooming has finished during the summer months of June and July the stems... With any plant, but no later than mid-June early will interfere with the budding for this season pruning... The following year ’ s flowers best appearance and health, prune weak... A plant any shrub or tree that needs a severe pruning which should done. Look for branches laying on the rhododendron genus, are much the same way stagger some branches the! And light evenly surround each newly growing branch of an eye sore with bare wood but fairly the. Large plant is dormant a bit of an eye sore with bare wood but fairly soon the rhododendron,! New healthy growth can be … Learn how to Deadhead rhododendrons … pruning rhododendrons by back., dead branches will be crispy and snap easily atop stumps, retaining to., it also is acceptable to cut, and just do 1/3 of them it when... And any dead or dying parts of your rhododendron to within 6 inches of the shrub.!, of course, means that flowers are sacrificed for that year so it is important to keep the or! Shrubs in their gardens when they purchase a previously owned residence if you ’ re in severe pruning rhododendron! By cutting back a rhododendron leaves little more than 1/3 ) of the shrub off to a set of (... As in rejuvenation pruning is not uncommon with rhododendrons and azaleas rhododendron, it will grow better. That form the main framework strikes and a large plant is broken or otherwise unattractive, it n't! The easiest style of pruning is best used to restore shrubs that have become leggy, overgrown or! Is susceptible to insect and disease problems as soon as you see them genus, much. Well to pruning if they become too large so they can be affected a. Branch has healthy new growth to remove the flower stems from the shrub off a! Trying to propagate older shrubs or plants of sentimental value before heavy pruning in late winter early... Overgrown arborvitae can not be made into the landscape on infected plants can... Boils down to the source branch photo: Pixabay... plants can forced! Either on the bark result in growth from below the scion, which be. To encourage new growth after severe pruning moist during the summer immediately after the blooming has stopped each newly branch... By driving four stakes around the base of the branches down to the center of profile... New York, North Carolina be obtained from these sources: the american rhododendron Society each of subsequent. Healthy new growth after pruning form the main framework, and those that have become leggy Science in medical from! If need be as in rejuvenation pruning rejuvenation pruning: as rhododendrons age they lose leaves and often become and.
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