When To Prune Rhododendrons - Backyard Boss
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When To Prune Rhododendrons

Do you have rhododendrons in your yard? These plants are easy to care for and can provide a stunning addition to any outdoor area, but many gardeners question when they should prune them. Improperly pruning your rhododendrons may result in them not blooming.

Below you’ll find when and how to prune your rhododendrons, as well as the different types available. Read on for more information about these beautiful blooms!

When To Prune Rhododendrons 

Pink Rhododendrons in a Forest
Image credits: Ralphs_Fotos via Pixabay

Generally, it’s best practice to prune in early spring before fresh growth appears. It also gives your rhododendrons ample time to flourish during the growing season.

Pruning directly after the blooming period is another option. However, if your rhododendron blooms heavily, consider pruning prior to bloom. This will help decrease the number of flowers and keep the plant’s vitality. Do not prune during periods of freezing weather, as this can damage your plant.

Pruning your rhododendrons during the summer might seem like it makes sense, but it can put them at risk of aphid infestation and can even weaken their ability to survive cold winter temperatures.

How To Prune Rhododendrons 

Image credits: Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

When taking care of your rhododendron plants, it’s important to remember that they don’t need a lot of pruning. They need just enough to keep them healthy and looking their best! Also, rhododendrons flower on the prior year’s wood. So, proper pruning will ensure you don’t cut off any of the buds that will make flowers for next spring!

Here are some tips to prune your rhododendrons:

Assess Your Plant 

Start by examining the plant. Check for dead, diseased, or damaged branches that need to be removed immediately. Additionally, assess the shape of your plant. Does it need any structural change? Has it been a while since its last trim? All these factors will play a role in how much of your rhododendron you prune.


Next, remove dead or diseased wood, crossing branches, weak wood, and spindly shoots. When cutting hardened wood away from the main stem or branches, make clean cuts, leaving no stubs behind. You should also remove drooping branches which can scrape along the ground. Thinning out your small outer branches is also a great way to keep your rhododendrons neat and tidy.

Different Varieties

For larger-leaved varieties, prune just above their growth joints, where new buds are forming. Be careful not to trim away any dormant buds. If you have a small-leafed variety, you can prune anywhere on the stem and still get significant results.

Don’t Panic! 

Cutting back rhododendrons heavily can stop them from flowering for a couple of years. However, the benefits of pruning are worth considering. Not only will your plants come back low and full, but you can also shape them more easily for an improved look.

Different Varieties of Rhododendrons 

Christmas Cheer rhododendron
Image credits: Peter Etchells via Shutterstock

With over 1,200 species, these eye-catching shrubs can be found in gardens around the world. Plus, they come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and blooming times. Whether you’re looking for a large showstopper or an easy-to-maintain dwarf plant, there’s sure to be the perfect rhododendron for your garden!

Christmas Cheer 

One of the most popular types of rhododendrons is the Christmas Cheer. These evergreen shrubs are a staple of the holiday season and for good reason. Not only do they boast beautiful light pink clusters of showy flowers, but their glossy green leaves offer an attractive backdrop that will make any frosty scene just pop.

Mrs Furnivall

The Mrs Furnivall rhododendron is a stunning, deep pink rhododendron that will bring beauty to any garden in the spring. As it’s an evergreen variety, the Mrs Furnivall rhododendrons make for excellent hedging options, with their thick foliage providing privacy. They also look beautiful, planted in groups and massed together for maximum impact.

Lemon Dream

The Lemon Dream rhododendron is another gorgeous evergreen shrub perfect for brightening up your outdoor space. Its lemon-colored blooms contrast beautifully with its dark green foliage, providing eye-catching appeal throughout the spring.

Another bonus is that this rhododendron variety also has a delightfully sweet scent! Plant it as part of a hedge to add texture, color, and natural fragrance to your landscaping design.

Rhododendrons vs Azaleas 

Azalea garden
Image credits: Jason Schronce via Shutterstock

Rhododendrons and azaleas are both beautiful flowering plants with delicate, fragrant blooms that make a spectacular addition to any garden. While they look quite similar and are often conflated, there are some significant differences between the two. Firstly, they require even less pruning than rhododendrons.

The major difference is in the number of stamens: rhododendrons have ten while azaleas only have five. Rhododendrons also have large, leathery leaves that remain on the plant all year round, making them an evergreen shrub. Azaleas, however, come in both evergreen and deciduous varieties. Some deciduous varieties do benefit from being cut back periodically.

When it comes to size, rhododendron blossoms and foliage dwarf their smaller azalea counterparts, but both can offer lovely pops of color when included as part of an outdoor landscaping feature.

Despite these differences, rhododendrons and azaleas are grouped together in a single genus, Rhododendron, making them closer relatives than you might think!

In Summary 

Now that you know how and when to prune your rhododendrons, it’s time to make a spring pruning plan and start tending to your plants! Also, there are plenty of different rhododendrons to choose from, each adding its own unique look and charm to any outdoor space. With the right knowledge and care, you can have a beautiful and healthy garden full of vibrant blooms! Share this article with your gardening friends so they can enjoy the beauty of these flowers too. Do you have any tips or tricks for how to prune your rhododendron plants? Leave a comment below. Happy gardening!