The Q&A Archives: Dead Branches On Rhododendrons

Question: Over the course of last summer and this winter my rohodendron has had leaves that have died on it and the branches have died along with them. This spring it does have plenty of new growth and looks good with the exception of the dead brances that are still attached. My questions are 1. What might be the reason for some of these brances dying and 2. Should I cut them off and if so how far back should do it? Down to the base?

Answer: I would suspect the drought may have caused the die back, with weakened branches being even more susceptible than usual to drying out over the winter as well. However, there are also numerous pests and diseases that can cause this so if the problems continue you might want to consult with your county extension as to additional possible causes. In the meantime, prune out anything that is dead and remove and destroy the trimmings and any dropped foliage. Start at the top and work your way down until you find live wood. When removing just a portion of a branch, try to cut just above a smaller branch that is directed in the way you would like the subsequent growth to go. If there is no live branch, cut as close to the base as you can.

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