Rhododendron – Pinch off Buds in Winter

Q: I have noticed that my rhododendrons have large bulbs at the ends of the branches, not ready for bloom. Since winter is around the corner, should I pinch them off?

A: Don’t, don’t, don’t!! Those swollen things at the end of rhododendron branches are the flower buds that will burst into bloom next spring. The buds are much more noticeable on rhododendrons than on azaleas.

If you examine the end of each upper branch on an azalea, you’ll find the same sort of flower bud in miniature, tucked between the leaves. Since the flower buds on some rhododendrons are so exposed, they don’t look like they belong. Endure the ugliness for a few months until they bloom.

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