The Q&A Archives: trimming very large Rhododendron

Question: Is it too late in the season to trim a very large Rhododendron?

Answer: It is too late to prune your rhododendron. If you prune now it will respond by sending out new growth, which will not have enough time to harden off before cold weather arrives. It will die back and you'll end up having to prune again next spring. Another consideration is that rhodies develop flower buds over the summer months for their floral display next spring. If you prune now, at the end of the summer, you'll be pruning off next year's flowers. A better approach is to wait until blooming is finished next year and then prune your rhododendron. The shrub will have all summer to grow and form flower buds. When pruning, try not to take off more than one third of the live growth during your pruning session. Taking off more can really stress a shrub and it can take years for it to recover. If you need to prune off more than one third, plan on doing it over a 2-3 year period so as to gradually reduce the size without too much stress. Best wishes with your rhodie!

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