For two weeks a year, Rhododendrons really put on a flowering show. Rhododendrons in gardens in the East Bay are just finishing their main bloom for the year. The dry winter with late rains have pushed their flower cycle into May this year. As the flowers on your tree start to fade, you will want to promptly prune the tree for the year. Never prune off more than a third of the total canopy at once. And if the plant is weak or sickly, do not prune at all. Rhododendrons carry their flowers on large flowering stalks, which do not readily fall off by themselves. Depending on the size of the plant, a diligent gardener will pinch off the spent flowering stalks to give the plant it’s best look. Fertilize all rhododendrons with an acid-type fertilizer according to the recommendations on the label. Think about adding a thick layer of mulch to keep moisture in the soil before the long dry summer hits. If you have problems with thrips making your rhododendron leaves look silver and spotted, call Water Wise Landscaping for a diagnosis and solutions for this common pest problem.
Similarly, Camellias are now finished blooming. Prune back overgrowth to shape the camellia. Many gardeners shear camellias, and although they can take this type of maintenance, I recommend never shearing. Shearing misses highlighting what can be a beautiful and aesthetic tree. Try making thinning cuts mixed in with heading cuts with hand clippers. Thinning cuts will allow air and light to enter into the shrub and will give the plant a lot more aesthetic appeal if done right. Try to make your cuts just above a budding site, and at a slight angle. Focusing on making cuts that are right above the budding site without damaging the new leaf bud will allow the tree to quickly heal over these cuts in the future. Call in a trained aesthetic pruner from Water Wise Landscaping (510) 985-0148 for pruning service that will transform that tired, background camellia into a focal point of your garden.