Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Support the plant database you love!

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

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!

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

Source for dotted blue-eyed grass from Saluda SC
February 23, 2013 - I lived in Texas for several years and now live on acreage in South Carolina. I have heard that bluebonnets don't grow well in South Carolina. However, there is a place by the road near our house t...
view the full question and answer

Gregg's Mistflower stressed in Fredericksburg TX
August 07, 2013 - My Gregg's Mist Flower plants are very stressed. The blooms have turned brown and the leaves are drooping. Plants are receiving moderate sun, partial shade. Do they need daily watering this time o...
view the full question and answer

Planting time for Helianthus annuus in Wichita Co., TX
April 16, 2007 - I need to know when is the best time to plant sunflowers in the Wichita Falls, Texas area? Thank you for your time.
view the full question and answer

Can bluebonnet pods be gathered when green in Lockhart, TX
May 02, 2015 - Can bluebonnet seed pods be gathered when green? Will the seed be capable of germinating next season?
view the full question and answer

Propagation of mountain laurel seeds
June 20, 2008 - My Texas Mountain Laurel this year finally produced seed pods. How do I go about planting the seeds for a new tree? A few of my co-workers love my tree and I would like to give them either the seeds ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.