rhododendrons: it pays to procrastinate

I have two huge matched rhododendrons near the corner of my house. Suddenly, this spring, one of them had what appeared to be many dead branches on it. I was devastated. BUT I procrastinated, probably because the thought of cutting off those branches hurt so much. It would never look the same and probably was on the road to a certain doom--or so I thought.
Well, lo and behold. Today I saw new leaves on those branches that had looked so dead. I am so happy! The moral of the story: don't give up on those dead-looking branches until after the rhododendron starts its seasonal growth. :-)
(PS My neighbor prunes his rhododendrons into perfect geometrical shapes right before it's going to bloom. He has even trimmed it just as it had come into bloom....)
--
Jean B.

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Jean B. wrote:

My azaleas always start out the spring looking dead with nothing but brown leaves, and then burst into enthusiastic leaf and bloom.
They seem to be very tough plants. I had a florist shop gift azalea of the type that is not supposed to be hardy that I'd kept for a couple years. I'd put it in the garden in the summer and it would occasionally flower. Last year, I didn't have much room in the house for plants, so I had to be more selective and I moved the florist azalea to a shady spot next to my woods, never expecting to see it again.
It looked like dead wood for a few weeks this spring, then it put out the tiniest leaves. It's now mostly leafed out. And that was after a winter with very cold temperatures and NO snow cover.
--Jenny http://www.phlaunt.com/jennysgarden
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Jenny wrote:

Heh. I'm in Massachusetts too, so I know a bit about that.
I hadn't seen such dead-looking branches come back to life before, so I was thrilled. I'm glad you, too, have had some rebirth in this family.
--
Jean B.

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