Ask a Question forum: Rhododendrons damaged in winter storms

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Winchester, MA
emilyhc
Mar 28, 2018 8:57 AM CST
I have 2 large rhododendrons (~20 ft tall) that sustained damage this winter. One of them has a large branch that split at its base, near where it meets the trunk; the split goes about halfway into the branch and is about 2 ft long. Will it survive this damage? Should I try to tape or bind it together? The other rhododendron was slightly uprooted in a storm. It is now sitting at about a 45 degree angle. All of the roots are still underground, but the soil is disturbed from it's tipping. Will it survive if I leave it be? Or should I attempt to upright it (how so)?
Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
Mar 28, 2018 10:32 AM CST
Trim the split branch flush with trunk. Remove it rather then repair it.

It will take some force to put other one vertical. If it is accessible you might be able to pull on it from the opposite direction to get it vertical.
If you can't pull it upright how about tying a heavy rope to bumper of a car or SUV to gently nudge it vertical?
Put protection around the shrub to lessen rub marks or bark damage.
Rhododendrons can take a great deal of pruning and re-sprout. I did my sister in laws 18-20 footers years ago, brought them down to 8 footers and they recovered in two seasons.
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Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
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Turbosaurus
Mar 30, 2018 12:33 PM CST
Ditto-
cut the split branch low and even to remove- you don't want a 2 ft long split where a 2" circle will do. They take a heck of a beating with pruning and will LOVE you for it- they always grow back better. You're gonna be shocked at the tens of new buds that force their way through the bark inches below that cut.

As for the one on an angle- if you can stand the way it looks, leave it. When roots are pulled out of the ground its like pulling a thread out of a sweater. Trying to shove it back into the weave- aint neva' eva' gonna go. Waste of your time. You can prop it- but it will keep falling everytime the wind blows putting much more stress on the plant. Let it lie and although it sounds counter intuitive, cut back spaces that are already sparse- that's where the plant focuses new growth- on cuts. Just like your body sends immune cells to repair a skin wound, cutting a rhododenron ENCOURAGES new growth

I would cut back that bush drastically on what is now the top side- (which used to be the side- side) becasue pruning really does wonders for rhododendron.
[Last edited by Turbosaurus - Mar 30, 2018 12:39 PM (+)]
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