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How to Kill Rhododendrons

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Rhododendrons are acidic-loving shrubs that produce large clusters of showy flowers and grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9. These versatile shrubs are generally a welcome sight in most gardens. However, when a rhododendron becomes diseased, damaged or unwanted, killing it may be your only option. Thankfully, you can kill the rhododendron with manual and chemical methods.

Manual Control

Step 1

Wait for the spring or fall when the soil is moist to manually remove the shrub. Put on work gloves.

Step 2

Remove all stems and branches off the rhododendron with garden loppers, leaving only the main stem. Cut the stem close to ground level, leaving about 2 to 3 inches of stump protruding above the soil.

  • Insert the end of a shovel into the ground a few inches out from the rhododendron stump.
  • Insert the shovel at an angle into the soil with the tip of the shovel going under the rhododendron rootball.

Step 3

Insert the end of a shovel into the ground a few inches out from the rhododendron stump. Dig a small trench around the entire rhododendron stump.

Step 4

Insert the shovel at an angle into the soil with the tip of the shovel going under the rhododendron rootball. Push the shovel hand down toward the ground to propel the rootball and the shrub stump out of the soil.

Step 5

Dispose of the stump and root ball. Monitor the area for newly emerged sprouts, digging them out of the ground when they appear.

Chemical Control

Step 1

Remove all stems and branches off the rhododendron with garden loppers, leaving only the main stem. Cut the stem close to ground level, leaving about 2 to 3 inches of stump protruding above the soil.

  • Insert the end of a shovel into the ground a few inches out from the rhododendron stump.
  • Insert the shovel at an angle into the soil with the tip of the shovel going under the rhododendron rootball.

Step 2

Pour glyphosate, triclopyr or 2,4-D herbicide in a chemical-resistant, disposable container. Dip a paintbrush into the container, saturating the bristles with the undiluted herbicide.

Step 3

Paint the rhododendron stump with the herbicide immediately. Monitor the stump for new growth, spraying any emerged seedlings with herbicide.

Tip

Follow the instructions printed on the herbicide label for best results.

Tip

Wear protective clothing -- goggles, rubber gloves, pants and long-sleeve shirt -- when working with herbicides.

Tip

If more than a few minutes have passed since cutting the stump, cut 1/2 inch off the stump before painting it with the herbicide.

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