The Q&A Archives: Propagation of Azeleas

Question: I want to get a start off of my mother's Azelea bush. I have been told that this could be done by layering. Is this the correct method, and if so, isn't this a long procedure? Approximately how much time will it take to sucessfully layer this plant and how exactly would I go about performing this procedure?

Answer: Layering is a good way to propagate an azalea, and the process can take several months. Mound layering is a simple procedure; bend one of the branches down so part of it makes contact with the soil. Make a small notch in the underside of the branch and hold the wound open with a small rock or piece of toothpick. Place the wounded branch area on the soil and mound additional soil over the top to anchor the branch in the soil. Roots will grow from the wounded area and a new stem will grow from one of the nodes. Once the roots have formed, generally in about 3-4 months, the branch can be cut from the parent plant. You can also try tip layering, in which one of the branch tips is gently pulled down and buried in soil. Roots will form and a new stem will emerge. Again, this takes several months to accomplish. Another propagation technique is to take several cuttings from the azalea. Choose new shoots at the ends of branches that are still soft and pliable, and cut them from the parent plant. The cuttings should be about 6 inches long. Use a razor blade to make a clean cut, and try not to flatten the stem as you cut it. Remove the lower leaves, dip the cut end in rooting hormone, and place each cutting into moistened potting soil or seed starting mix. Place the cuttings in a shady spot outdoors. Keep the potting soil moist, and mist the cuttings every morning. When they've rooted you'll see new stem and leaf growth.

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