British Columbia: Rhododendron - can I move it now?

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by lainyg, May 30, 2012.

  1. lainyg

    lainyg Active Member

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    Hi,

    I'm hoping someone out there can help me with this rhododendron. This is our first summer in this house and we are new to gardening!

    We have several Rhododendrons and one of them isn't in a very good spot. It's not exactly thriving where it is but it's also in the way of a decaying grape arbour that we are trying to rebuild (before it falls down!).

    I have no idea how old it is. It's currently about 6' tall but has not been pruned in quite some time...if ever. There are some pretty blooms on it right now but the bush itself isn't very attractive. There is a tag on it but the name is faded. It looks like it might have said "Maiylie" but I haven't tried searching to see what kind of rhodo this is.

    We'd actually like to try moving it tonight or tomorrow if at all possible.

    Will edit to attach pictures ASAP.

    Thanks in advance for any advise!
     
  2. Sea Witch

    Sea Witch Active Member

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    If you have to move it, then you have to move it. There are no Plant Police who will tell you that you can't.

    Others may disagree, but I say move it now. If it's large and leggy, then prune it back severely, dig it up and move it. Try to give it at least 18" of root all the way around. Be sure to soak it well in its new location when initially planted.

    P.S. It may not flower for a year or two after it's moved, but that would be normal after a severe pruning. There are no guarantees when moving something, but it has a very good chance to survive.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2012
  3. Charles Richard

    Charles Richard Active Member 10 Years

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    You could move it now, but water in well prior to moving. I would not do a heavy pruning on it at this time. Maybe to restructure a bit. It needs leaves left on it to maintain growth. I prune older Rhodo's by one third each year to restructure, so that I get some flowers the following year. Mulch well after replanting, light granular fertilizer on top of mulch (10-8-6) and keep well watered all summer. They are fairly resilient.
    CR
     
  4. lainyg

    lainyg Active Member

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    Thank you!

    I've been trying to post pictures...i tried using the picasa URL, but that didn't work.

    It's not the largest rhodo we have but I'd say it's rather leggy.
     

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2012
  5. Sea Witch

    Sea Witch Active Member

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    yup, that's pretty leggy. With all due respect to Charles Richard, no matter how you prune it, you'll likely take off all the leaves. If you don't prune it much, then it's likely you'll break off some of those spindly branches while moving it. I subscribe to the "kindest cut is the deepest" philosophy. No matter how you prune it, cut it *above* some latent buds, little pink dots on the stem or obvious nodes. Charles' method is the gentler one.
     
  6. lainyg

    lainyg Active Member

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    Thanks again. It's wide open on one side, but not the other, so probably better to cut than for it to break lower down. At least it isn't the biggest Rhodo we have...the two of us should be able to move it ourselves (unlike some of the others).

    Unfortunately, the previous owners of the house were not well and everything has been let go for the last several years, so there will be some tough cuts to make. We're newbies and we're just trying to learn all we can. I haven't even identified everything yet but with approx 130 different roses, 15+ rhodos, several hydrangeas, grapes and Kiwi, magnolias...well let's just say I have a new hobby!
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Move it to the new spot without pruning it, let it fill in on its own. Do not plant in a markedly hotter location or it is liable to deteriorate.
     
  8. Sea Witch

    Sea Witch Active Member

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    Good luck with it, lainyg. Now you have 3 opinions to choose from! If you love the rhodo's, there are lots of rhodo clubs and societies up here.

    Welcome to the forum.
     
  9. lainyg

    lainyg Active Member

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    Any guesses as to what kind of rhodo it is?

    I'm hoping a move will actually do it some good. Where it is now it just gets a little morning sun on the top and the rest of it is shaded by the grapes. We haven't made a decision on where to move it yet (it just occurred to us tonight that it couldn't stay where it is) but if you think shade is best then we have room next to some larger more tree-like rhodos.


    Thank you, Sea Witch. I admit that I've been lurking for quite a while but you'll be seeing more of me.

    Rhodos aren't really my favourite (I tend to prefer Hydrangeas) but I do like the colours and the early blooms.
     
  10. Sea Witch

    Sea Witch Active Member

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    There are plenty of rhodo experts here who will chime in.

    I have lots from the previous homeowner. I find that the ones that get morning sun and dappled sun in the afternoon do the best. The ones in total shade aren't that happy, and the ones frying in the sun all day aren't too happy either. I would aim for something in the middle. And water them regularly.
     
  11. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    In particular do not place where the root zone will be cooked during the summer. A marked increase in light exposure is also likely to burn the leaves.
     
  12. rhodogal

    rhodogal Active Member

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    I have moved many mature rhodos thru the years, best results come when transplant takes place in the fall once the rain has started. If you move it now I would advise to not just water it well before and after the move but continually thru the summer till the fall rains start. Rhodos have shallow roots so they take lots of water in a dry summer, one that is stressed would have better chance if given regular watering, but don't keep it wet, rhodos don't like to be overly wet.
    Pruning, I wouldn't take off too much till it's established in it's new spot. I agree with one other post, no more than a third right now. If it survives the move, you will see new growth on established wood next year.
     
  13. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Cutting the top at the same time as the roots have been cut is a bad combination that will not assist the plant, quite the opposite. It will need all of its top in place to fuel the growth of new roots, and to shade the soil these heat-sensitive roots occupy. It already has a top not likely to produce an adequate shadow, cutting a high proportion of what top there is away will only worsen this circumstance.
     
  14. lainyg

    lainyg Active Member

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    I can appreciate that fall would be a better time for the plant but it can't wait until then. The arbour is in poor condition (and it's an eye sore) and has to be replaced before the grapes get any bigger. We might be able to work around it for now but then the arbour would end up being in the way if the rhodo later.

    Another problem is that there's only 7 1/4" between the walkway and the stem of the plant (should I be calling it a tree or shrub?). This will make it very difficult to get all the roots on that side.

    The spot I have picked out is next to three other rhodos. The ground might get a little sun in the spring but definitely not now!

    Unfortunately, I can't get a really good picture to show you just how much there is on the "good" side of this rhodo. If I turned it around it would probably look quite nice. I do wonder why it's leaning so much. Was it bad pruning or is it possible that they damaged the roots on the one side when they put it the walkway...or both?

    We have quite a large space where it's going (the right side of the trees in the second picture). When we transplant it, should we turn it so it's facing the other way?
     

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    Last edited: May 31, 2012
  15. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Ideally the bushy side would face towards you as you are viewing the planting and there would be other shrubs shading its roots on the other side(s). Unless your main point of view will be with the sun behind you, in which case having the most leafy part of the shrub facing you will kill two birds with one stone.
     

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