En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Restoring and propagating rhododendrons

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

Information about growing mountain laurels (Sophora secundiflora)
November 15, 2008 - I live just outside of Austin on 10 acres. I have several very large mountain laurels on my property that I planted from containers. Mine flower profusely every year. I feed them bi-weekly and wate...
view the full question and answer

Why is non-native peach tree not going dormant in Owensville IN
December 19, 2011 - I have a peach tree I grew from a peach pit. It is about 2 years old. I planted the tree in my yard this summer. It is now about 3' tall. My problem is it is not going dormant. We have had several fr...
view the full question and answer

Presence of male Yaupon to ensure berries on female yaupons
November 09, 2008 - Does a female Yaupon have to be planted next to a male to insure berries every year? I have had "experts" tell me absolutely yes and others tell me absolutely not.
view the full question and answer

Do Fleming yaupons make pollen
November 09, 2010 - I have been told that all Will Fleming yaupons are male and can serve as effective pollinators for female yaupons (the females I have are Pride of Houston variety). Is this true? Also, can dwarf yau...
view the full question and answer

Making cuttings from purple sage in Austin, TX.
May 15, 2012 - I would like to plant additional purple sage for landscaping. May I do this with cuttings from an existing adult plant? If so, how and when would be the best method? I live in Lago Vista, TX
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center