The Q&A Archives: Propagating Rhododendron

Question: How do I start a new rhododendren from an existing plant? I bought some rooting hormone that says its good for rhodies and azaleas.

Answer: Take softwood cuttings from late spring to midsummer or semi-ripe cuttings from the tip of the branches in midsummer to fall. Keep in bright light, but not direct sun. Softwood cuttings are of new growth that is not yet firm. They should be about two inches long, with two-three pairs of leaves at the top of the stem. Insert the cuttings into the planting medium, just up to the lowest leaves. If possible, place the cuttings in a covered environment (a mini greenhouse) and provide bottom heat.

Semi-ripe cuttings are taken in mid- to late-summer from the current season's growth that has begun to firm. The cutting's base should be quite hard, while the tip should be growing and still soft. Use 2 1/2 - 4 inches, and remove side shoots. Make a shallow wound on the stem by cutting away a thin piece of bark (1/2 inch long). This stimulates rooting. Dip in a rooting hormones and insert in a soilless potting mix. Provide a humid environment.

Rootings takes 8-10 weeks, and flowering can take 2-5 years. They can also be layered in spring or fall or grown from seed.

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