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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.

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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.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Wednesday - June 17, 2015

From: Baltimore, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Cutting back a Rhododendron in Maryland
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have a planting of six shrubs across the front of my house (alternating azalea & rhododendron). All have died except for one huge rhody & a small azalea next to it. Can I cut the huge rhody back to maintain some scale to new replacement shrubs or would it be best to let it go, too, since some ailment has taken the others? Can you recommend some native shrubs for the new planting? Many thanks.

ANSWER:

You should probably leave the large rhododendron at full size since it is growing well. You can prune rhododendrons and the best time is in the spring. The next best time is after they bloom. The American Rhododendron Society has a factsheet online for pruning rhododendrons that you might like to read.

To find a list of native shrubs that would be good companion plants for your rhododendron, go to the Native Plant Database  and search for Maryland, shrub, perennial. Then select your sunlight levels and soil moisture to get a large pool of plants to make your next choices. Consider heights, texture and blooming times so there is some variety in your planting.

 

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