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May Woodland Garden Tips

Dead Heading Rhododendrons

Flower head on Rhodieclick for larger image
Breaking Flower head on Rhodieclick for larger image

Once your rhododendrons have finished flowering take time to dead head the seed trusses to encourage better new growth and reduce stress on the plants. Dead heading younger and more choice rhododendrons is an essential part of caring for these plants especially those which flower prolifically and waste a great deal of energy producing seed. Try to break off the seed trusses with your fingers. If they break off easily the seed has not set and the seed pods will not set and swell so there is no need to continue. If they do not then carefully cut out the seed trusses with secateurs taking care not to damage the surrounding new growth. Scissors may be easier to use on smaller growing rhododendrons.

Layering Rhododendrons

Layering a rhodieclick for larger image
Layering a rhodieclick for larger image
Just after flowering but before the new growth emerges is an ideal time to layer rhododendrons. Bend down an outer branch so that it touches the ground. Dig over the soil and add compost. Then lay the branch in the soil and cover it with soil and a large stone. Make sure the layered branch cannot move in the wind and stake it if necessary. After about 3 years when the layer appears to be growing and has rooted on its own sever it from the mother plant and move it to a new location.


Pruning Rhododendrons


Magnolia Suckers

Magnolia Suckersclick for larger image
 magnolia suckers to be removedclick for larger image
 magnolia suckers to be removed, 2click for larger image

Inspect your magnolias for upright suckering new growth coming from the main stems and carefully remove these suckers with secateurs or a small hand saw. Some magnolias waste a great deal of energy producing water shoots which direct energy and resources from the top of the tree and ultimately from next year’s flowers. Some magnolias such as M. ‘Star Wars’ or M. x veitchii are especially prone to suckers while on other species such as M. campbellii or M. sargentiana robusta they are much rarer.



Make sure you do not over enthusiastically mow grass which contained daffodils or other spring flowering bulbs. If the growth is cut before it has completely withered and died then the bulbs will die and not give you a display next spring.

Weed Control

Carefully spray around the base of newly planted or other specimen trees on a still sunny day to inhibit subsequent weed growth. Do not risk any spray around rhododendrons as they are too susceptible to even tiny amounts of spray drift. In a dry summer weed growth can take precious water away from your choice trees and shrubs. Even more importantly, leaving a clear bare patch around individual plants avoids the need to mow or strim too close to the stems. So often this is the cause of unnecessary and costly casualties.

Short Version

Longer Version

Pruning Genista

Pruning Tree Heathers / Erica arborea

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