The Q&A Archives: rhododendron

Question: How do you propagate rhododendrons.

Answer: Successful rooting of rhododendron cuttings is somewhat variety dependent and takes patience. You should take your cuttings in fall, and it will be more than a year before new plants are large enough to be planted in the landscape. In September or October, select a one year old shoot with no flower buds and take a cutting two to three inches from the tip of the shoot. Remove all but the top three or four leaves. Cut the remaining leaves in half with a scissors and cut the base of the stem at a 45 degree angle. Double wound the cutting by making two half inch slits just above the base on opposite sides of the stem. Dip the cutting in a rooting hormone and place it in a pot filled with a mix of one part peat to two parts perlite. Water the cuttings well and construct a clear plastic tent over the pot, using sticks or wire hoops so the plastic doesn't touch the leaves. Grow the cuttings on a heating pad (70_F bottom heat) and with artificial light through the winter, watering when the top inch of soil dries out. Check them for root development in a couple of months by tugging gently on the stems. If you're going to be successful, the cuttings will have begun to root by then. In spring, plant the rooted cuttings in four or six inch pots and grow them in a shady location outdoors, keeping them moist and protected form the wind. The following winter either heel the pots into the ground or transplant the cuttings into a cold frame, says Carlson. The next spring, plant them into the landscape.

Best wishes with your propagation project!

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