blackcapblackcap Posts: 17

I have a very tall mock orange (must be 9-10ft) growing behind a large rhododendren plant.  Not sure if I have been pruning it right for years as pruned in spring.  The main hub of branches ar now coming from about third of the way up (partly due to less light from rhododendren and my bad pruning).  And new spires formed higher up again from errratic pruning perhaps. Growing very well for some reason!  Very dense spires and some have a lot of blackfly/ants. So, do I cut ALL the spires back to certain point now or just thin out?  Advice would be very welcome.

Thank you.



  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,827

    If you want flowers next year then NOW is the time, actually getting towards the end of the right time. Cut out as far down as you can get in the bush about a third of all the growths. The rest cut back to where you can see new growth already. Next year, immediately after flowering has finished, cut out another third of the old stems and so on.

  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,827

    Oh and just to add, because of having to replace a fence we cut down our Belle Etoile Philadelphus 2 years ago, to inches from the soil. It flowered again this June having grown a good 5 or 6 feet in the meantime, so not to worry about killing the bush.

  • blackcapblackcap Posts: 17

    Perfect, clear advice.  Thank you very much.  Will follow your advice.  Very interesting to note how you cut back your Belle Etoile Phil..  (don't know the name of mine. My dad planted it at least 15 years ago).  I have another Mock orange in a large container (cutting from original).  Again,grew well but not all stems flowered (but I didn't prune it last year!).  May try cutting back all stems to near base and see what happens next year.

    Many thanks again.



  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,827

    That would probalby leave you with no flowers next year, but lots of new growth for the following year.

    One of those jobs which needs to be sone every year, removing the branches which have produced flowers, so that the shrub is always full of new growth.

    Same advice applies to any shrub which flowers before the end of June, say. Prune immediately after flowering.

  • addictaddict Posts: 659

    It may also be worth considering whether to move it or not depending on how much it is being shaded. They will grow in part shade but it does sound like the Rhode might be shading it a little too much.

  • blackcapblackcap Posts: 17

    Thank you very much Berghill and Addict.  Really appreciate such helpful advice.

    Wouldn't know where to begin to cut back rhododendron. Feel I would ruin it if I tried. It's also nearly covering a rose bush but feel there is nothing I can do about it as Rhode is so bushy.  No doubt my dad would have dealt with things years ago but I have them let them go I guess.  Have a lot to learn.

     Also at the side of the mock orange there is a large, wide conifer, but, it still generally grows and flowers really well. But, having said that, not all the branches actually flowered this year which ties in with what Berghill said.  Learning things every day. 

    Thanks again.

  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,827

    As a precaution, it might be worth sticking a few of the prune pieces in a quiet corner somewhere as cuttings. 12 inches long pieces of the new growth,light brown in colour, pushed into the ground in the shade usually root easily.

    As to pruning so viciously, leave about 12 inches minimum of the old stems so there are plenty of budding opportunities. And if the shrub is in deep shade, consider finding a way to get light into the base, otherwise it will not grow.

    Cannot help with Rhododendron pruning, we have never lived anywhere where they could be grown so never had to prune them.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,749

    blackcap you can really prune rhodies back to any height you want. They can be used as hedging and cut accordingly with shears or hedgetrimmers, but you can cut individual branches back to get it to the size you like if you prefer a more delicate approach! I need to do the one I've inherited here and I'll just take away what's necessary to fit the space better while keeping a natural shape. Do it now and it'll be fine for next year.image

    to walk through a forest is to touch the past

  • I would like to grow this plant from a cutting and have no idea how to start! Any useful advice or links would be kindly received!! image

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,254

    If you take a strong  unflowered shoot, about now, and dip in hormone rooting powder. Insert in a pot of gritty compost. Water it in, let it drain, and either stand in an unheated propagator or cover with plastic bag to reduce transpiration. It may take about eight weeks to root. You can leave it over winter in the small pot. When it starts to grow new leaves next spring, repot into a larger pot. If may take two years to flower.

    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
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