En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - October 18, 2006

From: Ardsley , NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Propagation
Title: Restoring and propagating rhododendrons
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I have 70+ year old native rhododendrons (16+ feet high) in my backyard. After all these years they are beginning to get dammaged by snow load and ice. Therefore I have 2 quesitons concerning these bushes that I absolutely love: 1) I would like to propogate baby plants from these giants - what is the best method to do so and where can I find step by step directions on the process? 2) I don't want to lose any of these wonderful giants - what can I do to ensure their continued health as they get to be 'senior citizens'? Specifically they are beginning to get flattened by the snow and ice and are no longer upright. Any suggestions? Thank you so much!

ANSWER:

You are to be commended for you dedication to preserving your wonderful old rhododendrons!

You have several choices for propagating your plants. Seed propagation may be possible if your rhododendrons produce seeds that you can collect. However, it is often difficult to find viable seed on some species. Cutting propagation is a good alternative and allows for a lot of choices about where to plant the offspring, etc. Like seed propagation though, cutting propagation is not without difficulties. For most species, timing is critical and often only trial-and-error will yield success. Ground layering and air layering are probably the most fool-proof methods of propagating rhododendrons.

You can find a lengthy discussion of each of these techniques on this Fraser South Rhododendron Society web page.

Rhododendrons should be pruned after they finish flowering in the spring. Yours probably could use a good pruning. However, due to the advanced age of your plants, you will want to be judicious about cutting them back. Limbs that have been crushed, bent or broken by snow and ice should be removed. Otherwise, prune your plants with the goal in mind of reshaping them and removing old, diseased or unproductive limbs..

Here is a link to a nice web page devoted to care and pruning of mature rhododendrons.
 

More Propagation Questions

Seed source for Carex texensis from Louisville KY
May 02, 2012 - Your reply to my question re a grass for my Kentucky home with cistern only water available was much appreciated, Carex texensis was recommended. I am unable to find this product for sale other than ...
view the full question and answer

Non-native lilacs for Salt Lake City, UT
April 15, 2012 - Is the weather in Salt Lake City UT good enough to plant a lilac bush root? If not, how long should I wait?
view the full question and answer

Source of Berlandiera pumila seeds from Coral Gables FL
June 07, 2012 - Where can I buy plants or seeds of Berlandiera pumila?
view the full question and answer

Are the seeds of my Graptopetalum paraguayense in Macon, GA fertile?
June 01, 2010 - I have a Graptopetalum paraguayense that has finished blooming. I put several of the dead flowers into a Ziploc bag and shook them around, and a few hundred seeds came out. They are oblong and very sm...
view the full question and answer

Standing Cypress Plants in San Antonio, TX
June 26, 2013 - I purchased seeds for standing cypress 2 years ago and this spring they look beautiful. What is the best way to harvest the seeds? Also, will the current plants come back next spring or will I have to...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center