The Q&A Archives: Rhododendron Isn't Blooming

Question: We have a very large rhododendron that has not bloomed. It is heavily shaded, has lots of new growth on it, but did not form a single bud. Perhaps it needs more sunlight? We did fertilize with acid fertilizer spikes last year. It is not feasible to move it. Shall we just give up on it?

Answer: The most common causes of non-blooming in rhododendrons are improper pruning and lack of sunlight. If your plant has never bloomed, I'd guess it's not getting enough sunlight. If it has bloomed in the past, then accidental pruning of the flower buds may be the cause. Rhodies do require acidic soil, but if soil is too alkaline the first symptom would be yellowing leaves, not lack of bloom. Since the plant is large and moving it isn't an option, perhaps you can do some pruning of trees and shrubs blocking the sunlight? If not, it will probably never bloom - but you can enjoy the foliage of your rhodie.

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