The Q&A Archives: Rhododendron Doesn't Grow or Bloom

Question: My rhododendron, which is about 5 feet tall and pretty old, just won't fill out or bloom. I pruned it back about one third last fall, and there is no new growth. There are no flowers, either. Yet the leaves are very, very healthy-looking. I water it with an aluminum sulfate solution every two weeks and it's planted in shade with moist soil in New York City. What can I do to jump-start it?

Answer: If your rhodies isn't blooming or growing it's probably planted in the wrong place. Some rhodies bloom best in full sunshine and others prefer part- to full-shade. Another factor in non-blooming might be poor pruning practices, where the plant is pruned each year, effectively removing the potential flowers buds. If your plant is otherwise healthy, and isn't routinely pruned, you might want to move it to a different exposure. If it's getting full shade now, move it to a partly sunny location. If it's getting a few hours of sun now, move it to an even sunnier location.

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