How To Propagate Rhododendrons

Rhododendrons are beautiful and hardy woody shrubs that look good in any garden. There are a number of ways to propagate rhododendrons, like cutting, grafting, layering, using seeds, or through tissue culture. Each of these processes work well, though cutting is one of the most popular methods if you want to produce a similar plant from the “mother” plant. If you want to know how to propagate rhododendron through cutting, here are the things you need to do.

  • Choose the best stem to use. Look for a stem that isn’t too hard and is growing upright instead of on the sides. This should be the part that sprouted for not more than a month from the time you decided to make the cut. Semi-hardened stem allows roots to form easier than hardened stems, although you have to take care of them more since they are more prone to molds and fungal diseases.

    To check if the selected stem is usable, try bending it for about 90-degrees. If it breaks, don’t use the broken portion.

    Smaller varieties or cultivars of rhododendron, which are smaller in size root a lot easier than those with larger produce.

  • Prepare the replanting pot. Prepare a planting medium that offers air circulation while retaining moisture. This means that aside from potting soil, you’ll need to add bark, peat, sawdust, sand or perlite. Spray water in the soil to moisten it but don’t water it too much. Too much moisture makes the stem rot and keep the roots from developing.
  • Cut the stem. Measure 4-8 inches from the tip of the stem and cut off from this measurement at a 45-degree angle. The length depends on how tall you want the new plant to be. Remove the leaves that are present on the lower portion of the stem, as this is the part that goes into the soil. You can also cut off some leaves on the top part of the stem. This allows the stem to concentrate on more rooting rather than in feeding the leaves that it currently has.

    Leave a few leaves on the top portion so that photosynthesis can still happen. Clean the stem from dirt and check the leaves to see if there are molds present.

  • Add rooting hormone. Get the stem and make a small wound in the end of the stem with a knife. Make the cut just deep enough to reach the inside of the bark. Prepare a mixture of indolebutyric acid mixed with rooting hormone and dip the wound end of the stem on it to help it in rooting. The strength of the mixture largely depends on the cultivar that you plan to propagate and how hard the stem is.
  • Make a suitable environment. To grow well, this plant needs enough heat and moisture. Some cultivars require 21-degree Centigrade of heat to grow while some don’t. Moisture should also be retained, but not so much since it can lead the plants to develop molds and other fungal diseases.

    One way to keep moisture is to add a frame on top of the rooting container and put a piece of plastic over it. Keep the container away from direct sunlight, though the location should still be sunny. If propagating on the summer season, place the cutting on a wooden container, add a plastic cover on it, and keep it in a shaded place. You can also just put the stem cutting in a jar and put a lid over it before placing it near the window. Place a rubber band on top of the container so that moisture remains on the plant and not on the pot.

  • Wait. It may take some time for the rhododendron stem cutting to grow roots, so don’t be discouraged if roots don’t appear after some time. Though some will root after a month or so, some cuttings need three to six months to a year before they start rooting.

    Check the cuttings constantly. Remove leaves that become infested with molds and keep the soil wet.

  • Repot the plant. Watch closely for evidences of new growth. This usually means that roots have developed. Once this happens, remove the plastic covering. Gently tug on the stem. If it isn’t easily pulled off, that means that roots are strong enough. Continue transferring the plant in larger containers until the weather warms and you can transfer it in your garden.

Others believe that just by cutting a stem and sticking it to the ground will work, but don’t try this out. Although the leaves may remain green for a number of months, it will eventually wilt and dry since roots don’t end up developing.


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