Cutting Rhododendron


There are more than a thousand species of rhododendrons that grow around the world from Asia to Europe. According to the American Rhododendrons Society, rhododendrons come in a wide variety of colors and types and there are varieties that grow well in nearly every climate zone, from cold to tropical. Rhododendrons grow into large bushes that can get unmanageable if you do not prune them yearly. Remember, however, that rhododendrons flower on old wood so you should not heavily prune last year's growth unless you want to see fewer blooms.

Step 1

Dead-head spent rhododendrons blossoms after they are finished flowering. Fine Gardening suggests you cut the flower trusses at the base with pruning shears.

Step 2

Cut off any damaged, dead, weak or diseased wood from the rhododendrons. Cut the wood off at the base of the branch. This type of maintenance pruning should be done in the summer after the rhododendrons stop flowering.

Step 3

Cut off any crossing or shaded branches on the inside of the rhododendron plant at the base of the branch. This type of pruning should also be done in the summer after flowering has finished.

Step 4

Shape rhododendrons in the winter while the plant is in its dormant phase. Cut off any unsightly branches just above any leaves you wish to keep. Cut the newer wood, wood that is no thicker than 1 inch, sparingly as it will produce next year's flowers.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always make clean cuts when cutting rhododendrons. If the cut is not clean it could lead to your rhododendrons getting diseased.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears


  • American Rhododendrons Society: Botanical Classification
  • American Rhododendrons Society: Climate Info
  • Fraser South Rhododendron Society: Rhododendron Basics
  • Fine Gardening: 3 Ways to Prune Rhododendrons

Who Can Help

  • Gardening Know How: How to Prune Rhododendrons
Keywords: cutting rhododendrons, pruning rhododendrons, trimming rhododendrons

About this Author

Hollan Johnson is a freelance writer for many online publications including Garden Guides and eHow. She is also a contributing editor for Brighthub. She has been writing freelance since 2008 and her interests are travel, gardening, sewing, and Mac computers. Prior to freelance writing, Johnson taught English in Japan. Johnson has a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada.