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Rhododendron That Won't Bloom

April 25,1998 Annelle wrote: Several (approx 6) years ago we transplanted a rhododendron. When we did so we cut it way back to basically the trunk. It has re established itself well in its new location. However, it has not bloomed since the move. This spring for the first time it does have one bloom bud on it. Is there anything we can do to improve this situation? It has gotten to about 4 ft tall and 4 feet in diameter with lots of healthy new growth but only one bloom. Thanks for whatever advice you may offer. Annelle, Hickory, NC--
Rhododendron 'fastuosum flore pleno'
After cutting a Rhododendron back this severely, the key word is patience. Rhododendrons tend to have a mind of their own when it comes to producing bloom vs.foliage. They tend to grow in cycles, with leaf production one year and bloom the next. Not only did you cut your plant back, you also transplanted it at the same time, so for the first year or two, the plant had to produce a new root system, adjust to a new environment, and start regrowing. I can only assume that when you replanted, you added peat moss to the soil so the pH was within 5.0-6.5 and you have been feeding your shrub with an appropriate Rhododendron fertilizer. Since it has produced a healthy crop of foliage in the past couple years, it is probably getting itself ready for a great flower show. Feed it well again this spring, and each month until August, and expect a pleasant surprise next spring!