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

Possibility of propagating buckeye from basal shoots
June 25, 2008 - I have a beautiful red buckeye tree that has small shoots coming up at the base. I would love to share these with my friends. How do I do this?
view the full question and answer

Source for Texas Olive Tree from Tucson AZ
August 10, 2013 - Can one start a Texas Olive Tree from the olives it produces? How can you start one. I am having difficulty finding a nursery, but do see the trees around.
view the full question and answer

Gathering Purple Coneflower seeds in Burnet TX
October 10, 2009 - I have grown some Purple Coneflower and now am trying to save the seeds to plant next spring. I have a bucket full of dried tops and I know there is a lot of seeds. Is there an easy way to separate ...
view the full question and answer

Planting a meadow garden in Pennsylvania
November 16, 2014 - I live in Saxonburg PA near Pittsburgh PA. I want to put a meadow garden in my back yard. We are building a home so there is no established yard yet just trees and weeds. Where do I start . What...
view the full question and answer

Sunlight needs for native wildflower seedlings from Double Oaks TX
January 27, 2014 - Last December I created a flower bed for my parents' backyard and sowed native wildflower seeds (obtained from Native American Seed). The bed is in full sun most of the day, and the seeds are alread...
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