Pruning Rhododendron

Pruning Rhododendron

With its brightly coloured flowers of yellow, orange, white and red, pink, blue or purple; rhododendron will create an explosion of colour in any garden. Originally from China and the Himalayas, rhododendron has now become a revered favourite amongst garden enthusiasts around the world. From dwarf rhododendrons to rhododendrons that are ideal to use as a hedge, evergreens to deciduous species; this garden plant comes in an abundant variety of shapes and sizes. With more than 500 different individual species, colourful flowers and lush dark green foliage, a rhododendron will bring joyous colour to your garden all year round. If you find your rhododendron is growing too large, blooms poorly or has an abundance of yellow leaves, it is a sign that you should give it a prune. But how do you prune a rhododendron?

How should I prune rhododendron?

Most garden professionals only prune a rhododendron if it grows too large, blooms poorly, or the leaves begin to turn yellow. A yellowing of the leaves is a tell-tale sign there is a shortage of nutrients or a lack of acidity in the soil. If your plant is showing signs of nutrient deficiency, then it is definitely time to give it a prune. Wherever you prune, you will see your plant begin to thrive with lush growth again. By pruning the bush extensively, you will see it return naturally to a full coverage of beautiful green leaves. Use a sturdy lopper, or sharp pruning saw when cutting your rhododendron. This is especially important for the thicker branches, and it will make them much more accessible to prune. As well as benefitting from a sharper cut with well-maintained garden tools, it can also help prevent spreading infections amongst the other plants in your garden. It is crucial when cutting rhododendron that you cut this plant above the wreath of the leaves. If there are no more leaves on the lower stems, look for an eye on the stalk and cut the branch just above it. The bush will automatically start re-sprouting from the eye. New flowers will also immediately form upon the new shoots.

When should I prune rhododendron?

The best time to prune rhododendron is just flowering. In both spring and August rhododendron enjoys a cycle of flowering, and can be pruned immediately after that. It is vital to water your plant regularly after pruning, as the cut branches do not tolerate direct sunlight. Prevent dehydration of your freshly cut branches and stems by spraying them regularly with water in the first few days after pruning.

When can I plant rhododendron?

The best time to plant rhododendron is during autumn but anytime is fine as long as it is not during the freezing cold of winter or the sizzling heat of summer. If you choose September or October, the shrub still has plenty of time to establish its roots and get well-prepared for the coming winter. When you plant a rhododendron make sure you begin by digging a wide hole that is about 40 centimetres deep. Cover the bottom of the hole with a well-mixed combination of garden peat and sharp sand. Make an indentation in the mixture and place the plant in the centre of it. Pour a large bucket of water into the hole and then fill in the hole.

When should I fertilise rhododendron

For a lush flourish of blooms and the healthy growth of a rhododendron, it is vital that it gets extra nutrition during the growing season. To accomplish this give it regular fertiliser in the period from April to October. Long-release fertilisers are best to be used in April, yet fast-acting fertilisers must be used more often. It is best to give the plant a little bit of manure every month during March, April, May, June and July. It is essential to not give the plant any more manure from the beginning of August so that the plant can prepare to hibernate for the winter. If the leaves of your rhododendron are becoming brown and dry though, chances are you are giving it too much manure.

When can I propagate rhododendron?

Successfully propagating rhododendron is not an easy job and the risk of failure is quite high. Summer is the best time of the year to take your cuttings. To propagate this garden plant, take a cutting off a year-old side shoot in mid-June. Remove the lower leaves, dip the bottom of the cutting in propagating powder and then place it into a small pot with potting soil. Wrap the pot with clear plastic, making sure it is completely covered. Place the plastic-wrapped container in a warm, shady place. After about four weeks the cuttings should have formed roots. At this point, they can now be re-potted.

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