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rhododendron pruning / shaping

MrsGardenMrsGarden Posts: 3,951
I've had a rhododendron 'bambino' for 20+ years. It was various pots as it grew and finally planted out just a couple of years ago ( lots of house moves and wanted to keep it). Its growth is quite prostrate with only a foot in height, branches laying horizontally. I really want to trim the lower branches to promote a more upright growth. I can't see anywhere online to say this is a characteristic of this rhodo., but have no idea if it will work. If so now is the time to do it as its just finished flowering. Sorry just thought about a photo, will do that tomorrow. Thanks.


  • Peanuts3Peanuts3 Posts: 759

    Can i follow this too, as I'm about to do the same to mine too. 

  • MrsGardenMrsGarden Posts: 3,951
    Hi peanuts. Don't think it will damage it but may not encourage upward growth. Did you see the thread 'look what I did to my rhodos' that was inspiring.
  • MrsGardenMrsGarden Posts: 3,951


    Will it be OK to trim the low branches off, especially the one to the left? And will this encourage more vertical growth / height? Looking online it seems it should grow to 4-6ft.

    Or does anyone know if it is a characteristic of some rhodos to have this low growth habit?


  • InglezinhoInglezinho Posts: 568

    Don't for God's sake cut it back. Rhodos cannot stand any sort of pruning, except of obviously dead lower branches. You will either kill it or stop it flowering for years. I don't know this particular variety but it may well be a naturally prostrate form, in which case it will never grow very tall. The name " Bambino" ie little baby suggests this. Good luck.

    Everyone likes butterflies. Nobody likes caterpillars.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,365

    I beg to differ - rhodos can grow like weeds here and if they're grown as an informal hedge they need regular pruning once established - cut hard back very few years, or trimmed every year to keep them at an ideal height. What they don't like is being in a pot so I think if you've now got it settled in the ground it will gradually start to thrive MrsG, but it may take a while. Give it plenty of tlc, a regular feed of your choice and a mulch and keep it free of competition from other plants. If it's in a sunnyish site don't let it get dried out -  rainwater if yours isn't ideal . It should be at it's full height if it's that age. I've already cut back the one I inherited a year ago (near the base) and it's grown a lot already, but I have the perfect conditions here for it. It's getting a big haircut later on  image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,365

    I just had another thought while at work MrsG. If the rhodie was in pots for all that time it may be very, very pot bound. Did you tease the roots out a bit when you planted into the ground? They get to a point where they don't settle into the surrounding soil and just keep going in circles and still don't grow on properly. It might be worth lifting it and taking a look. If they're still congested give them a bit of loosening up and then replant with plenty of good soil and compost and a feed, water and mulch image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • MrsGardenMrsGarden Posts: 3,951

    Thanks Fairy, I had thought of this (something on tv recently). I can't say I remember much about planting it apart from ericaceous soil. 

    It may well be a prostrate form Inglezinho but still think it should have put on some height. The name Bambino was because it was given to a children's hospital (Seattle I think).

    I've read a bit more and still find opposing views on pruning, most will recover losing flowers for a year or two. Some 'smooth barked' ones may not recover.

    I think I will lift it and tease at the roots as Fairy said, then the lower branches still have some flexibility in them so I am going to try staking it to train it more upright.image image


  • BerkleyBerkley Posts: 428
    Have a look at the photos I posted last week! I know it's not the same type of rhododendron but certainly proves you can prune them hard! They're even more beautiful this week.
  • MrsGardenMrsGarden Posts: 3,951

    Thanks Berkley, saw your thread which reminded me I wanted to do something with mine.

    Hi Mike, hope you are well, didn't understand your original post 'read me' couldn't find anything to readimageimage

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