The Q&A Archives: Azalea {rp[

Question: How can I propagate an azalea? I have some recent cuttings.

Answer: Propagating azaleas is best accomplished in the spring during new growth. I don't know how successful you would be at this time of year. To propagate azalea, take a stem cutting from the tip of the branch, at least 1" and no longer than 4-6". This length does not include any tender, new tip growth which should be removed. Be sure to make cuttings with a sharp, clean instrument. You will be planting the cuttings in a mix of equal volumes of sphagnum and perlite, in a sterile container with drainage holes. (Moisten the mix before adding cuttings). Prepare the cutting by removing flower bud, seed pods, and tender tip growth. Take all of the leaves off of the cutting except for the top 4-6. On the remaining leaves, trim off approximately1/3 of each leaf. Make a fresh cut at the bottom of the stem, cut off only a sliver. I like to dip the cutting in a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water, and then allow it to drain on a paper towel. Then, take the cutting and moisten the cut end. Dip the moist end into a rooting hormone such as Rootone, dust off any excess. Make a hole in the soilless mix by poking a pencil into it. Stick the powdered cutting into the hole you have made. Cover the container with clear plastic (don't letit touch the cuttings). Best case scenario, the cuttings would now go under fluorescent lights that are within 8" above the cuttings for 16 hours per day. If you can't accomplish this, place the cuttings in a window, turn the containers regularly. Check the mix regularly to see if it needs water, usually it doesn't. Rooting should take place in 6-8 weeks. Azaleas are not easy to root, so it could take longer. You may see some roots above the soil surface, this is OK. You may also see new stem growth or leaves, this doesn't necessarily mean the cutting has rooted - you will need to check for roots to be sure rooting has occurred. Sometimes you will see new leaves but there are no roots. This usually occurs because the cut end has calloused over and needs to be recut and re-powdered. Be sure to harden off the "babies" before giving them a permanent home.

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