Ask a Question forum: Could different pruning still save these Rhodies?

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Name: China
Woodbridge, VA (Zone 7a)
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chinwa3
Apr 18, 2017 7:22 AM CST
I trimmed my azalea bushes with hedge clippers last spring. I didn't know at the time that this was a travesty, but now that I've done more research I know to never do that again! My problem is this is how they have looked since shortly after I cut them. I thought they would rejuvenate this spring but so far they still haven't responded. Can anyone tell if either of these can be saved or do I need to take them down?
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Apr 18, 2017 1:23 PM CST
Welcome! Thank you for filling in your location information.

I believe those are Rhododendron. All Azalea are Rhododendron, but not all Rhododendron are Azalea.

Give the bare branches the 'scratch test'. Scratch the bark with your fingernail (or garden shears or knife). If the tissue under the bark is green, that branch is alive. If the tissue is brown or hard as a rock, the branch is dead. Test all the branches, cutting out the dead ones as you go, and see what you have at the end. Then you can make a decision.

I have never heard that you can't prune an Azalea or Rhododendron (I do it all the time). They have very nice shapes without pruning. But, you have to choose plants that are the size of your space.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: China
Woodbridge, VA (Zone 7a)
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chinwa3
Apr 20, 2017 5:53 AM CST
Thank you very much for the advice and for the welcome! I will do the scratch test this weekend and hopefully there is enough to save.

Thank You!
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Apr 20, 2017 11:55 AM CST
After the dead stuff is out they should fill in with some time.
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Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.

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