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How to prune rhododendrons is one of the frequently asked questions to professional gardeners. Since garden design is a great joy for many and is a part of the lifestyle, let's explore this question. As with all regular plants, there are a few rules that will make things a lot easier. Are you ready for some more floral spring vibes?

The rhododendron does not need to be cut back very often

Trimming rhododendrons - general information!

When is the rhododendron ready for cutting?

Rhododendron is actually a low-maintenance plant, both in terms of planting and maintenance. Cutting doesn't have to be regular at all. It is only ready when certain characteristics can be seen on the plants.

For example, if there are bare areas to begin with, that is a typical sign that you need to prune the rhododendron. Another distinctive feature would be the tufted, lush appearance. There is no need to prune the rhododendron before you recognize these features.

With the right care, this plant can become really beautiful

When should you prune the rhododendron?

The other important rule relates to the time of cutting. It is known that bushes can be cut deeply between the beginning of March and the end of September. At this time, only care measures that do not disturb the birds when breeding are allowed. Another requirement is the rule that rhododendrons should be cut outside of the flowering period. So obviously there aren't that many options. One option would be to prune the rhododendron in winter, preferably in February. A second option would be to do that in October or November.

During the flowering period you can only shape the plants

Two different ways of cutting

When it comes to “cutting rhododendrons”, you have to distinguish between two different variants. The first option is all about getting the plants in a more beautiful shape bring to. The second such involves deep pruning. In this case, the plant needs rejuvenation. Here the process is much more complicated and then we are actually more likely to do something wrong or encounter complications. But that doesn't apply if you follow our tips! Let's get more specific!

Radical pruning is only possible outside the flowering period!

Give the rhododendron a good shape

Let's start with the easier part: this is about giving the rhododendron a nice shape. You need the right pair of scissors for this. You won't be cutting off thick shoots, so you don't need heavy-duty tools. Rather leave out the scissors you use for the hedge. It is better to use the smaller one that you usually use for the roses. You must not cut the shoots that are too thick. It is about the removal of smaller branches. You can still allow yourself to remove some branch stubs. You can also cut the rhododendron in this way for purely aesthetic reasons. The risk of doing something wrong is not that great. Experts particularly strongly recommend the diagonal cut. With this you will allow the water to drain away.

Some exotic rhododendron species are a bit more difficult to cut back!

This is how you should radically cut back the rhododendron

There are different types of rhododendrons. Each of these has its own characteristics and entails different requirements. The older plants and some noble varieties are much more difficult to prune. With these, we would actually even recommend that you get a professional. So the sooner you start pruning the rhododendron, the fewer problems you will have with it. Your plant will develop all the better over the years. The main danger is actually that you might injure new shoots. With older plants and some special varieties, these are simply a little more difficult to distinguish. But read our tips and you can decide whether you want to do it yourself or not.

You can also cut back the rhododendron in stages

The right depth

An important question when cutting rhododendrons relates to how deep you can actually intervene there. That depends on the state of the respective plant together. Older plants with bare areas will likely need to be pruned back quite deeply. A typical sign that you are dealing with such is that the shoots are very long and the leaves are too few. You need the fixed hedge trimmer here. With this you cut back the shoots so that they are about half a meter above the ground. After that, you sometimes have to wait two to three years until the rhododendron becomes really magnificent again. But the wait will pay off and you will be able to enjoy the beauty of the plant longer!

In some cases, the shoots are cut back by half a meter

Cut less and observe

The other possible course of action would be to cut less of the plant and then observe its development. In this case, you can also cut the shoots much shorter. You don't have to do this with all rhododendron plants either. If there are leaves closer to the base then they are probably in good condition. Then you don't have to cut them back too much. You can edit part of the plant and then gradually continue the process. You can spread this out over one to two years.

Sometimes advice from a professional gardener is necessary!


The bottom line is that it's not that difficult to prune the rhododendron. If you want to shape it or encourage the water to drain away, grab the pruning shears for the roses. Cut at an angle and avoid thick shoots. Only work on those trunks and branches that are no thicker than 2 cm.

In the case of radical pruning, the age of the plant is very important. Especially these shoots have to be cut back, which are very long and do not form leaves. You don't have to cut back all the shoots at the same time. This can be done in different stages. If you're new to gardening and need to prune an older plant, you might want to consult a professional gardener!

In any case, the effort is worth it, because the rhododendron is a beautiful plant that brings a lot of joy.

For aesthetic pruning, only prune thinner branches!

Sometimes after cutting back you have to move on to the next one Wait longer for flowering!

You can only cut off part of the shoots

The rhododendron can be found in different colours

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