Rhododendron pruning made easy

by Natasha Starkell | 28.01.2014 | 3 steps | easy | 20 - 60 Min. | Rating: 6 votes

Rhododendrons. Hard to believe, but they can withstand pretty harsh treatment when it comes to pruning.

If you’re trying to get an exotic feel in your garden, then you’ve probably got a rhododendron or two. These plants put on quite a show at the start of the year when they become covered with the brightly coloured blooms that they’re so well known for. Rhododendrons are very good at looking after themselves without much interference, but you should do a little pruning to keep plants in shape.

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Tools
Sharp secateurs
Loppers
Pruning saw for older and woodier stems
When to prune rhododendrons

When to prune rhododendrons

When to prune rhododendrons

Step 1

When to prune rhododendrons

Plan to prune rhododendrons in the spring after flowering has taken place. rhododendrons need pruning immediately after flowering so that they’ve got time to produce enough shoots and buds for the following year. This means that you’ll be cutting back in the spring, allowing plenty of summer warmth for growth to occur. 

Items:
Sharp secateurs
Loppers
Pruning saw for older and woodier stems
Remove faded flowers - rhododendron pruning

Remove faded flowers - rhododendron pruning

Remove faded flowers - rhododendron pruning

Step 2

Remove faded flowers and dead branches

Faded flower clusters should be removed, but you need to take care not to cut off the new shoots if you want to get a bigger plant. Diseased or dead stems should also be removed at this time, in addition to cutting off any branches that are crossing each other or growing towards the centre of the plant.

Take each bloom in your hand and use sharp secateurs to remove them, taking care not to damage new buds.

Prune dead and diseased branches. These may be brown, black or withered stems without leaves. Cut these off, tracing back to a bud on healthy tissue.

Image Source: dianecordell (Some Rights Reserved)

Renovating old rhododendron

Renovating old rhododendron

Renovating old rhododendron

Step 3

How to renovate an old rhododendron bush?

Renovation can work well in rhododendrons, so if you’ve inherited a very old and leggy specimen, then there is the chance to turn it back into a beautiful plant. In the spring, cut back branches to a latent bud. These are indicated by little pinkish dots on old stems. If you’re worried about taking too much off and accidently killing your rhododendron, remove half of the material one year, and complete the rejuvenation project in year two by cutting off the remaining branches.

Trace your finger back to small pink dots on the stem. Prune just above these dots to encourage new growth. 

Image source:  rojabro (some rights reserved)

Tools
Sharp secateurs
Loppers
Pruning saw for older and woodier stems
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