Are you a new owner of a rhododendron plant? If yes, are you wondering how to prune it? Most people who are new to the plant are eager to know its pruning details. However, the question that should be asked is whether rhododendrons need to be pruned in the first place? Well, the answer is that it depends. Rhododendrons are attractive bushes that produce round flower clusters, in a variety of colors, including white, purple, pink and red. Talking about pruning the plant, there is minimal or no need for the process, unless the plant goes out over the walk or you want to restrict its growth within a particular space. However, in case the rhododendron in your garden has grown outrageously and is occupying humongous space, light maintenance pruning, coupled with dead-heading, should be resorted to. Given in the following lines are tips on pruning a rhododendron plant.
How To Prune A Rhododendron
The first step would be to know which type of rhododendron you intend to prune. While fastigiatum do not require much pruning, there are other varieties like rigidum that need to be pruned within the first two years. At the time of buying a rhododendron, make sure to inquire about the growth habits and care guidelines for the particular type of plant. If possible, ask for a look at a mature plant, to get an indication of how the plant would look in the later years of its growth.
Pruning time is a major factor that you need to consider. Ideally, a rhododendron plant should be pruned within a couple of weeks after flowering has ended. It is best pruned in the early days of the spring season. This gives the plant ample of time to heal and restore the budding process. In case you wait for too long to prune, after the end of the flowering session, you would not only interrupt the budding process, but also reduce next year's blossoms.
The tools required for pruning a rhododendron plant should be sharp, clean ones. Sharp tools would make smooth cuts, which would assist in the growth of the plant. A blunt tool would not only cut the plant unevenly, but might also reduce its growth and flowering.
Rhododendron should be pruned by making cuts at a slight angle. This would allow the moisture to run off. For larger branches, paint the cut ends with a pruning seal. The best bet would be to prune the entire plant, instead of the top portion only. Removing stem from the mid portion of the plant would allow better airflow and more light to pass into the center of the plant. As for the larger plants, you can remove the lower branches to assist in the process of mulching.
Deadheading is an important process in the pruning of a rhododendron. It not only helps in reducing the risk of fungus, but also prevents a heavy set of seeds. Deadheading involves removal of withered flowers, after the blooming season has ended. The process makes the bush extremely attractive and also increases the number of flowers blooming in the following season. Also, remove any kind of dead or diseased wood from the plant.