The Q&A Archives: Pruning Rhododendrons

Question: How and when do you prune rhododendrons that are growing out of control?

Answer: Prune your rhodies after they've finished blooming. Just under the flower trusses you'll find buds that will produce this year's leaves and next year's blooms. Cutting below this point will force buds along the stem to produce new stems and new leaves, but it will take a year before new flower buds will form. To preserve next year's bloom, prune selectively, cutting back only some of the branches. (Next spring, after bloom, you can cut back those you left.) If you're renovating a very overgrown shrub and you prune it back severely, you may completely lose next year's bloom. It's best to prune lightly to keep the shrub in shape. That way, you'll maintain at least some buds for next spring's flush of bloom.

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