Taking Rhododendron Cuttings

Overview

Taking cuttings from your favorite rhododendron plant provides an inexpensive way to add more rhododendrons to your landscape. Different varieties or types of wood the cutting is taken from will determine the length of time it will need to root. If you don't already have a rhododendron plant, ask a friend for a cutting from theirs. Taking a cutting will not damage the plant.

Step 1

Take a 4-inch cutting or cuttings from the north side of the plant. New growth is best, and the cutting should be skinny and pliable. Select a branch that is growing upright and not out to the side. Cut with sharp pruning shears at the bottom and immediately stick the cutting into a glass of water. If the plant is very dry, water well the day before you take the cutting.

Step 2

Prepare a flower pot for the cuttings by mixing 1 part peat moss to 1 part perlite and filling the pot to within ½ to 1 inch from the top. Dampen the mixture so that it is crumbly, but not soggy. Tamp down slightly, leaving the soil a little loose but level. Using a pencil, poke a 1-inch-deep hole in the soil for each cutting.

Step 3

Cut off all the leaves on the bottom half of the cutting with a razor knife. Cut the remaining leaves in half across the width. Make shallow slices on each side of the cut end 1 inch from the bottom, extending down to the cut end. The slice should only be deep enough to go through the bark.

Step 4

Place rooting compound, either powder or liquid, in a small bowl and dip the cut end into it. Place the cut end into the pencil hole you made in the soil. You can place as many cuttings as will fit in the pot, leaving room for ventilation.

Step 5

Put 3 straws into the soil around the edge of the pot. Place a plastic bag over the pot. The straws will hold it up off the cuttings. Place a rubber band under the rim of the pot to hold it closed.

Step 6

Place the pot in an area where the soil temperature will stay around 70 degrees F and the cuttings will receive filtered or indirect light. If you don't have an area that will provide the necessary light and heat requirements, place the pot under a lamp with the light on. The light bulb will provide heat and light.

Step 7

Check on the cuttings once a week, checking for mold or rotting cuttings. Pull out any moldy or rotting cuttings immediately. If the soil feels dry, mist it with a spray bottle and put the plastic back on.

Step 8

Tug lightly on a leaf in 6 weeks. If it resists, you are starting to get roots. Leave the cutting for another 2 weeks and re-pot. Some cutting can take months to root, so don't toss the cuttings if you don't have roots right away.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp pruning shears
  • Glass of water
  • Round, 6-inch plastic flower pot with drain holes
  • Peat moss
  • Perlite
  • Pencil
  • Razor knife
  • Rooting compound (strong enough for rhododendrons)
  • Small bowl
  • Plastic bag large enough to go over the flower pot and cuttings
  • 3 straws or thin wooden stakes
  • Large rubber band

References

  • American Rhododendron Society: Tips for Beginners: Success with Rooted Cuttings
  • Fraser South Rhododendron Society: Rhododendron Basics
  • Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens: Propagating Rhododendrons from Cuttings
Keywords: propagating rhododendron, taking shrub cuttings, using rooting hormone

About this Author

Dale DeVries is a retired realtor with 30 years of experience in almost every facet of the business. DeVries started writing in 1990 when she wrote advertising and training manuals for her real estate agents. Since retiring, she has spent the last two years writing well over a thousand articles online for Associated Content, Bright Hub and Demand Studios.