I have someone who has dug up a six foot Rhododendron from the Mountains of NC and I want to move it to the Piedmont area of NC. My site is full sun and the ground is red clay, which I can change to an acceptable media. My question is, what is my best effort to keeping this plant alive? I understand it needs an alkaline soil pH and lots of water. Do I dare prune it down to a couple feet tall just to keep it alive and hope for blooms at a later time, or do I leave it as tall as it is now and do what? I have not yet seen this plant but he says he has taken up a large root ball.
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Contrary to what many people say, it will not hurt the shrub to prune it back. It is true, however, that blooms may not appear until the following season (or later). This should not be a deterrent since right now the goal is to get the shrub in the ground as soon as possible. You may want to amend the soil with organic matter beforehand since red clay is not a happy growing medium for these plants.