Guide to Pruning Rhododendrons

What You'll Need
Work gloves
Safety goggles
Closed shoes
Long sleeves
Pruning equipment (clippers, shears, pruners, etc.)

Pruning rhododendrons is not that different from pruning other types of flowers. However, there are some mistakes that you can make if you follow a generic pruning plan. The instructions below are specific to rhododendrons, and will ensure that you prune them such that you increase their beauty and are still able to enjoy them season after season for some time to come.

Step 1 – Wait for Bloom

Pruning rhododendrons requires accurate timing. Pruning them too early will interfere with the budding for this season and pruning them too late will interfere with the next season.  Prune right after the blooming has finished during the summer months of June and July. Other times risk being too early or too late.

Step 2 – Don Protective Clothing

To prevent this from happening, wear a hat, safety goggles, work gloves, long-sleeved clothing and closed shoes before you begin pruning. This is not absolutely necessary, but better to be safe than sorry.

Step 3 – Prune Dead Branches

Dead branches will be easy to spot compared to healthy ones. These are branches that are likely dry and have no healthy buds growing on them.

Step 4 – Prune Injured Branches

Injured branches are a little harder to spot, but with a little experience you shouldn’t have any problems. They are branches that can look diseased or have sustained physical trauma to the point that they are no longer ideal to continue on the rhododendron. Branches from which sickly-looking flowers are extending are likely culprits as well.

Step 5 – Prune Cosmetically

Your goal is to make your rhododendrons bloom in a compact form because this will allow them to remain healthy and guard against outside disturbances.

Pruning cosmetically involves stepping back and taking a look at the entire rhododendron plant. Anything that is tall, looks untoward in comparison to the rest of the branches or breaks the compactness of the shape should be pruned back. This includes limbs that are significantly taller or wider than average, and it also includes anything that could be interfering with the growth of nearby plants.

Step 6 – Check Your Work

Take a look at the work that you have done and make sure that you got everything that you needed to prune. If you didn’t, don’t be afraid to take the pruners back to the rhododendrons in order to get something else. Your goal is to make sure that you only have to do this once a year due to the time constraints, so make sure you get it right the first time.