Italian pruning method for Rhodies?

Hobart, IN

I heard on a gardening podcast out of the NW about an Italian pruning method for Rhododendrons. I understand the basic concept as described in the podcast - snapping off the new leaf buds in spring to encourage production of multiple buds on the now-vacant space - but can't find any other info on the net about it. Does the method go by a different name? I'd like to understand a bit more before subjecting my misshapen Rhodies to my uninformed efforts.

Caldwell, NJ(Zone 6a)

By pinching off the new growth buds at this time of year you can encourage multiple new but shorter shoots at the same terminal. This will result in a denser , more shapley bush. Look at the American Rhododendron Society Web site. (google it), for more information on plant care

Hobart, IN

Thanks for that reference - will check it out.

Clarksville, MD

I had a lot of snow damage to my rhododendrons this year.
Which resulted in holes directly in the center of the shrub.
It seems if I pinch off the new leaf buds around the hole in the center of the shrub,
that this would encourage the plant to fill in back into a globe shape?

Thumbnail by rileyobo
Hobart, IN

I'm definitely not a Rhodie expert but according to what I had heard on the podcast and in reading the ARS website, you'd get multiple leaf buds where there was only one before by snapping off the primary leaf bud. I have done pruning on my Rhodies after watching how they prune azaleas in the south, not necessarily making the cut just above the leaf but anywhere along the stem, encouraging those dormant buds to sprout and it has worked for me. I saw this technique on a Garden Smart program. I'm going to study the ARS directions a little more before I get out there snapping off leaf buds.

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