How To Propagate

New Rhododendron leaves

There are essentially 5 ways to increase your stock of rhododendrons and azaleas:

1. Semi-ripe Cuttings

Start with a growing medium that contains a good mixture of water retentive humus (bark or peat) and a gritty element like perlite or sharp sand to give good air circulation to growing roots.

Find a growing tip on the plant and cut between 5cms and 10cms below the tip.

Remove the lowest leaves and reduce the surface area of the top leaves by cutting them in half.

Make a couple of cuts just through the bark at the bottom of the shoot and dip in rooting compound.

Place the cutting in a pot containing the mixture made earlier, having watered the pot first.

Cover the cutting and pot with a see through plastic bag to conserve moisture and temperature.

Try to keep cuttings in a steady temperature of around 21°C.

Once the cutting has rooted, remove the bag and grow on before transplanting to a larger pot.

[Video to follow]

2. Layering

To create a copy of an existing rhododendron or azalea, simply bend a lower branch down to touch the adjacent soil.

Make a cut through the bark on the underside of the branch where it touches the ground.

Cover this part of the branch with ericaceous compost and weigh it down with a rock or hold it in place with a staple.

A new plant should develop from this wounded branch over a period of 1 to 2 years, whereupon it can be transplanted to a new location.

[Video to follow]

3. Seeds

Rhododendrons will grow fairly easily from seed but the resultant plants may be different to the parent, especially if the parent is a hybrid.

The dust-like seed must be sown thinly into a seed tray of a peat and perlite mix and covered with clear plastic.

Keep the seed tray at a constant 18°C – 21°C and the seed should sprout in about 3 to 8 weeks.

Once the seedlings are large enough to handle safely, transfer them to individual pots and grow on, protecting them from frost for a couple of years.

[Video to follow]

4. Grafting

Grafting is a technique where a cutting with a growing tip from one plant is attached to a growing shoot from an already rooted plant.

This method is best described using a video which will follow shortly.

[Video to follow]

5. Tissue Culturing

Also known as micro-propagation, tissue culturing is the preferred method for commercial breeders and growers in that many plants can be created from a single small shoot.

Although not really suitable for the home gardener due to the materials and equipment needed, the keen amateur may nonetheless fancy a go at this.

[Video to follow]