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Rhododendron not happy

Hello everyone I have yet another question but because people are so helpful on here it just makes me post more!
I have a rhododendron nova zembla in a large pot about 50cm wide by 40 deep. It's in a mostly shady corner of my garden and it has only ever had 1 flower. Last year I pruned it by about half as it put on a lot of new growth looking a bit leggy but thus year I can't see a singleke bud set to flower. What can I do to help it? 


  • MarlorenaMarlorena Posts: 8,437
    It sounds as though you have pruned off the flower buds... when did you prune it last year?  what month exactly?...
    East Anglia, England
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,268
    It's very important that rhododendrons don't dry out in late summer when they're setting flower buds for the following spring.  My guess is that because last summer was unusually hot and dry, with it being in a pot, with the best will in the world it probably didn't get as much water as it needed.

    Is there any possibility you could plant it in the ground?  Provided you have acid soil it would be happier there.  But if not, keeping it damp could be the key.
    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    edited March 2019
    It's almost likely you have pruned it too hard, and this year, unlikely to have any blooms. Although you mention the size of the pot and lack of flowering, it might be a good idea to see what the shrub looks like. If possible, please attach a photo. You mentioned leggy looking. This may be due to leaves dropping further down the shrub. This can be due to lack of water and not enough sun. Even though Rhododendrons need some shade, not in total shade. 
  • FfoxgloveFfoxglove Posts: 538
    Thank you both. I think the drying out might definitely be a possibility since it had a flower last year! Do you think I should change the soil? I do feed it with a slow release. But the soils been in there for 2 years now ..
    Here's a pic but the leaves are more wrinkly again since I took this... 
  • FfoxgloveFfoxglove Posts: 538
    I pruned it after flowering I'd say... June or july...and I did really chop it back... 
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    It looks well, even if you say it has since got a bit more wrinkly. Looks like you may get two to three flowers this year. Pruning after the flowers have faded should be fine, but don't prune back too hard. With container plants, I always scrape out a quarter or an inch out of the top and re-fill with fresh compost every year, so I think a change of soil/compost will certainly help them. Make sure it is ericaceous compost.

    Watering containers throughout the summer time. Your pot will not get watered by just summer rain as the evergreen leaves will act as an umbrella knocking the water away from the base. Collect rain water and use that to water your shrub. Hopefully next year, you will see more flowers.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,856
    Ffofglove - have a read of the info in the link below whcih advises on aspect, compost and watering.  Rhodos come from areas of high rainfall and need to be kept moist all through July, August and September when they are forming their flower buds.   Prune them too late or too hard and/or let them dry out and producing flowers will be beyond it.  
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • FfoxgloveFfoxglove Posts: 538
    Thanks everyone. I will change the soil and keep it well watered and hopefully next year it will flower profusely! 
  • MarlorenaMarlorena Posts: 8,437
    In my opinion, you've pruned that too hard... I doubt that it had anything to do with watering..
    There's no need to prune rhododendrons at that young stage, you merely remove the spent flowers and this needs care and precision, as just below the stalk which holds the old flowers will be the new developing flower buds for next year... if you cut those off too, you won't get any flowers the following season..

    It otherwise looks a healthy bush.. the curly wavey foliage is characteristic...
    East Anglia, England
  • FfoxgloveFfoxglove Posts: 538
    Thanks Marlorena. . Shall I just leave it alone, no pruning, this year then so that it gets flowers next year? 
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