The Q&A Archives: Rhodies Won't Bloom

Question: I have a vacation place on the Northern Calif. coast at Ft. Bragg. I have several nursery bought and several wild Rhododendron plants on my place. They all seem healthy and put on lots of new growth each year. I rarely see a flower!

Some of the plants are 10 feet tall and as big around as a volkswagon bug, but, not a blossum. What do you think?

Answer: When shrubs fail to bloom it's usually due to some cultural problem, including poor pruning practices, lack of water during growing season, over-fertilization or inadequate exposure to sunlight. Since you have both natives and imported rhodies that are reluctant to bloom, they may need more sunlight than they're receiving, or more water late in the summer when next year's buds are developing. Rhodies bloom on the tips of shoots so be careful not to prune out all of the branch tips when you prune, or be careful when you're removing spent flower trusses that you don't accidentally break off the buds just below the flowers. Finally, if you're fertilizing with a high nitrogen food, it might produce abundant green growth at the expense of bloom. Hope the above gives you some clues to follow to help your rhodies bloom well next spring.

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