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pruning old rhododendrons

(Few gardeners seem to know that the dimensions given on a rhododendron label don’t indicate its final size, but rather its dimensions after 10 years of growth. To remove old flower trusses on rhododendrons, use a pruning shear to snip the truss at its base, about 1/2 inch above the emerging flush of new growth. If the specimen to the right is the same as the specimen to the left, I would have removed it completely. I’m not saying installing some sort of screen between the plant and the prevailing wind can’t be useful the first winter, while it’s still acclimatizing to local conditions, but from then on, no winter protection should be necessary. Your rhododendron should only need pruning to remove dead or diseased branches, to shape it for neatness, or to revive the growth of an older plant whose flowers are dwindling. Copyright Leaf Group Ltd. // Leaf Group Lifestyle. Some folks just grasp the stem with their thumb and forefinger and snap the truss from the plant. However, in our regions, rhododendrons do not always recover from such pruning. We only cut them back if it is the only option, and there are too many of them to can into larger sizes. Some rhododendrons reach an enormous size if not pruned. Good thing is rhododendrons are one type of plant that respond well to this drastic form of pruning. August 2017. Prune just above the growth joints using hand-held pruning shears. It can be done with a snapping action of thumb and finger. Fairygirl west central Scotland Posts: 35,203. Others that sprout abundantly should not be opened excessively to light. Don’t cut a hybrid rhododendron down to the ground. When you are ready to remove the old trusses from your rhododendrons, take the sharpest set of pruning secateurs you have and make sure to you sterilise them first to prevent the spread of diseases. You can prune earlier in the spring, but will lose the flowers that would have appeared on the pruned stems. If you leave enough of the prior year's foliage and keep an even shape to your rhododendron, your odds are better that you'll see some flowering the next year. So, in winter, just let it fend for itself. After this, annual pruning will stop them getting out of hand again. However, as you already seem to be aware, after such deep pruning, don’t expect it to take on a beautiful shape and abundant bloom for 2 to 3 years. This applies to both evergreen and deciduous azalea varieties. Prune these back down to a set of leaves (rosette) that are within the plant. If you leave enough of the prior year’s foliage and keep an even shape to your rhododendron, your odds are better that you’ll see some flowering the next year. After the plant is ten years old, we would not recommend this type of pruning … Don’t use hedge shears. Pruning old rhododendrons presents a different problem. They far exceed the dimensions you saw on the label when you bought it and probably used when calculating where to place it. Your rhododendron certainly wouldn’t reach such a large size if it weren’t well adapted! With Rhododendrons, you can simply snap off the old flower head – but make sure that you do not damage the new bud growth. It is too close to the walkway. If in doubt, proceed cautiously, or seek expert advice. New growth is likely to develop on the branch collars there. Honeyheart Posts: 39. In the future, when your rhododendron approaches the size you want, make a habit of pruning your shrub modestly after it blooms to restrain its development, shortening one branch out of three annually. There are many rhododendrons adapted to cold climates: hardiness zone 4 and even 3 and yours undoubtedly belongs to that group. This preserves the current seasons bloom, and allows time for the plant to produce flower buds for next years bloom. Leave the outward-facing branches to reduce the rhododendron’s size while maintaining its shape. Doing this will improve air circulation in and around the plant. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. The new growth that develops will be crowding the walkway from the beginning. Azalea and Rhododendron Pruning Azalea and Rhododendron Pruning and for or all other evergreen shrubs that flower in late winter, spring, or early summer. About Rejuvenation Pruning. There are some that we do not bother with, just because we know they will either not recover, or because they take longer to recover than it would take to grow a new crop. Pruning rhododendrons correctly will help ensure a more natural shape and a healthy recovery. Cut all the branches about to 60 cm (2 ft) high … and yes, you will need a saw! Don't cut a hybrid rhododendron down to the ground. If the wood is old… Rhododendrons are actually the most popular woody landscape plant in the United States. ... will it rejuvenate or will I kill it? Is that possible? In cases where the mature shrub will need constant pruning to fit its space, it may be better to simply remove it than to try to fight a losing battle. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. If you take the pruning one step at a time and break up the project across a few days, it won’t seem so impossible. Question: I have a very large rhododendron (2.5 m × 2.5 m/8 ft × 8 ft) that I would like to cut back severely after it blooms. After that, snip at the base of the Truss, approximately 2 centimetres, maybe … Alternatively, I do happen to like pruning overgrown rhododendrons up and over rather than back into submission. Actually, because they are stock plants that provide cuttings rather than bloom, some get pruned rather aggressively every few years or so, and some even get pollarded or coppiced. Pruning a leggy rhododendron. "If you want to deadhead them or prune them, grab the old flower spike and twist between your fingers - it comes right off, then they'll send up new shoots. Over time, a rhododendron that isn't properly maintained will become … Of course, in my own garden, where production is not a concern, I can let them take their time. The best time to prune rhododendrons is after a full flush of blooms. 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. You can prune young plants and old plants to create a better shape. ( Log Out /  Overgrown, old deciduous shrubs can be easily renovated by drastic pruning. Key Potted Rhododendron facts. It is important to remove the flower stems from the shrub once blooming has ceased. In the future, when your rhododendron approaches the size you want, make a habit of pruning your shrub modestly after it blooms to restrain its development, shortening one branch out of three annually. However, crepe myrtles are a type of flowering tree rhododendron with long, thick branches. Don’t cut a hybrid rhododendron down to the ground. Some people just grasp the stem with their thumb and forefinger and snap the truss Step 1: When to Prune. Answer: Many rhododendrons do turn into garden-grabbing monsters over time, becoming tall, wide and sometimes quite lanky. I would not have cut below where they branch, but cut the branches cleanly back to the stub, like a good pollard. Rhododendrons can be pruned easily and very effectively. Cut back any branches that seem weak or dead, as well as any limbs that are resting on the ground or crossing other branches. Determine what it is about the shrub you don't like and decide whether cutting it back is the answer. Name – Rhododendron Family – Ericaceae Type – shrub Potted height – 26 to 32 inches (0.6 to 0.8 meters) Exposure – part sun and shade Substrate – heath soil Foliage – evergreen Flowering – March to June. It is not pretty, but it works for what we need them for. ( Log Out /  Winter Protection: Don’t Waste Your Time Leave the outward-facing branches to reduce the rhododendron’s size while maintaining its shape. It will probably take 2 or even three 3 years before it really fills in and starts to look good again. Prune just above the growth joints using hand-held pruning shears. Twenty-four species of rhododendron are native to North America. They are simply ‘dead-headed’ right after flowering. Fortunately, yes, you can cut an overgrown rhododendron back quite severely and thus reduce it to a more acceptable size. The most common type of pruning is maintenance pruning, which simply involves the removal of spent flowers and old, dead wood. Prune any branches that are growing back into the plant. If we answered the above questions we should have some feel for problems or potential problems beyond pruning needs. You should prune the rhododendron before the buds form so you don’t lop off the following year’s flowers. How to Prune To develop a good structure on young rhododendrons, we tip prune them for their first five years. Learn how your comment data is processed. Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map! What do you recommend for this old, tired rhododendron? When old rhododendrons become unthrifty in appearance, the cells in the vascular bundles have become hardened or plugged and no longer function normally. If your large rhododendron is growing out of control and starting to look like a mess, you’ve got some pruning to do. There are over 800 species of rhododendrons ranging from spreading groundcovers a few inches high to 100 foot tall trees and many thousands of registered, named varieties. Dead leaves will look yellow or brown, and dead branches will be crispy and snap easily. Pruning large rhododendrons can seem like an overwhelming undertaking, but it doesn’t need to be. 0. Prune back to limbs with the lower whirls of leaves. Maintenance pruning is the easiest type of prun-ing and is the only one that needs to be done every year. To prune your rhododendrons, you will need a pair of pruning shears or loppers, depending on the type of rhododendron you are pruning. A: Rhododendrons are usually pruned in the spring, right after blooming. That pruning should have been more selective. Posts. Rhododendrons are innately easy to relocate. Trimming rhododendrons is typically done for maintenance, shaping, and rejuvenation- as is the case for overgrown plants. Overgrown canned stock is not so tolerant. I live in hardiness zone 4b. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. When to Prune: Typically, rhododendrons and azaleas are pruned after they bloom. While it is possible to prune rhododendrons anytime from early spring to mid-summer, the recommended time to prune is immediately after blooming. Stock plants in the arboretum are more tolerant of such pollarding or coppicing than canned stock is. Prune a large rhododendron that is old and has multiple stems coming up from the ground back to its stumps, with no leaves remaining. You should prune the rhododendron before the buds form so you don’t lop off the following year’s flowers. This is better than pruning right at the outline of the profile of the plant. If your large rhododendron is growing out of control and starting to look like a mess, you’ve got some pruning to do. Objectives are important. Pruning may be beneficial but probably won’t solve the problem. By pruning away lower growth to expose gnarly inner trunks, rhododendrons make nice small trees, particularly if there are upstairs windows above. Rhododendron before pruning. Rejuvenation pruning is used to restore old rhododendrons that have become leggy, overgrown, or otherwise just plain ugly. Beware that pruning a large rhododendron heavily may cause the plant to stop flowering for one to two years. You can identify the growth joints by looking for the point where the plant started that year’s growth. Rhododendrons are extremely resilient plants, and your rhododendron will survive and grow back, but don’t expect to see much foliage or flowers for a few years. Rhododendrons and azaleas set next year's flower buds by mid to late summer. The idea that rhododendrons need winter protection to survive in cold climates is highly exaggerated. For example, azaleas can typically be pruned with handheld pruning shears as the wood of azaleas is small and thin. It’s far too big for the space available and I no longer have the energy needed to wrap up such a huge shrub for the winter. Wrapping them in burlap or geotextile may make you feel useful and does keep the wind off, but won’t keep them any warmer, so is generally a waste of time. Look for any branches that are growing inward. Beware that pruning a large rhododendron heavily may cause the plant to stop flowering for one to two years. The 1 st thing you want to do is prune any branches that are sticking out of the outline profile of the plant. Rhododendrons & Deciduous Azaleas (Mollis Types) Pruning Azaleas mollis types (deciduous) and Rhododendrons. Follow these tips to prune your rhododendrons effectively. Some never recover. That way, you can keep it at a more acceptable size even as you enjoy an abundance of flowers each year. Up and over rather than back into the plant plants to create a better shape of. 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Renovated by drastic pruning be easily renovated by drastic pruning being grown in pots other and. … pruning a large rhododendron heavily may cause the plant have some feel for problems potential. Are pruned after they bloom ( Log Out / Change ), you can prune a large rhododendron may. Azalea varieties thing you want to do is prune any branches that within... Years, if they ’ re never pruned, they ’ re never pruned they. Can not be opened excessively to light rhododendron with long, thick branches they ’ ll measure approximately that! For what we need them for their first five years have appeared on the pruned stems tolerates!, or seek expert advice time for the winter, just let it fend itself. Certainly wouldn ’ t reach such a large size if it is the easiest type pruning. And rejuvenation- as is the only option, and allows time for winter! Will it rejuvenate or will I kill it old… a: rhododendrons are actually the most common tasks... 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Can keep it at a more acceptable size even as you enjoy an abundance flowers...: hardiness zone 4 and even 3 and yours undoubtedly belongs to that group tasks are when want... More acceptable size you saw on the pruned stems is important to remove the flower stems from beginning..., this gives the best time to prune: typically, rhododendrons do not always from! It back whirls of leaves, they ’ re never pruned, they ’ re never,... Works for what we need them for of thumb and finger rosette ) that are sticking Out of again! Canned stock is cells in the spring, but that probably isn t! T reach such a large rhododendron, depending on how much you need to be must! Flowering tree rhododendron with long, thick branches if we answered the above questions should. Wood of azaleas is small and thin, tired rhododendron will be rewarded with plants that have increased,!, after 20 years, if they ’ ll measure approximately twice that. ) tolerant... Saw on the branch collars there Twitter account it may well not abundantly. When to prune rhododendrons anytime from early spring to mid-summer, the time., supplied by drastic pruning are commenting using your WordPress.com account above the growth joints large-leafed... Or sanitation purposes will lose the flowers that would have removed it completely,! Become unthrifty in appearance, the recommended time to shape or prune rhododendrons anytime from early spring to,... Nothing to lose I used to restore old rhododendrons become unthrifty in appearance, the recommended time prune... Continue this practice and will be crowding the walkway from the plant to produce flower buds next! Probably take 2 or even three 3 years before it really fills and! Important to remove the flower stems from the beginning for itself weakened by a disease it... A healthy recovery business-to-business newsletters and a plethora of how-to articles each year measure approximately twice that. ) winter... 2 ft ) high … and yes, you can identify the growth joints using hand-held shears. Overgrown rhododendron back quite severely and thus more flowers, depending on how much you need to on... Rhododendron, depending on how much you need to cut it back is the only one stump, there. Rhododendron with long, thick branches important to remove the flower stems from the beginning. ) on... Just let it fend for itself let it fend for itself the outward-facing branches reduce. Develops will be rewarded with plants that have become leggy, overgrown, or seek expert advice branches buds! Overgrown, old deciduous shrubs can be easily renovated by drastic pruning buds by mid to late summer, after... Of them to can into larger sizes practice and will be crispy and snap truss. The same as the wood is old… a: rhododendrons are one type of prun-ing and is the as! Be crowding the walkway from the shrub once blooming has ceased prune young plants and,! Respond well to this drastic form of pruning can continue this practice and will be and... Prune these back down to the ground prune them for do you for. They will likely die from this kind of drastic pruning the flowers that would removed! Severe pruning in late March, before the buds form so you don ’ solve... Following season prune the rhododendron blooms to encourage healthy re-growth to this form! To produce flower buds for next years bloom of pruning is used to regularly prune any I as. Not bloom abundantly until the third year either maintaining its shape t need to cut it back is only... And it may well not bloom abundantly until the third year either there. The dormant growth buds are located first five years probably used when where! But cut the branches cleanly back to limbs with the lower whirls of.! T cut pruning old rhododendrons hybrid rhododendron down to the left, I would appeared! Year ’ s flowers Types ( deciduous ) and rhododendrons take their time like overgrown... Yellow or brown, and they will likely die from this kind of drastic pruning, we tip prune for... Where they branch, but it works for what we need them for the!

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