How to Start Rhododendrons


Rhododendrons are attractive perennial shrubs that are available in a wide variety of colors. They are usually purchased from gardening centers, but a more economical way to add these colorful plants to the garden is by taking cuttings. If you have an established rhododendron in your yard, or know someone who does, you can try your hand at propagating this plant on your own. The key to successfully starting rhododendron cuttings is choosing a healthy plant to harvest them from.

Step 1

Clip a 4-inch section of stem from a healthy rhododendron plant. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting.

Step 2

Remove a 1/2-inch strip of bark from each side with a sharp knife. Dip the bottom inch of the cutting into rooting hormone. If using a powder form of rooting hormone, take care that you do not inhale any.

Step 3

Fill a growing container three-fourths of the way with a mixture of one part peat moss and one part perlite. Plant the cutting 1 inch deep in the mixture and add just enough water to moisten.

Step 4

Put the entire container inside a plastic bag that is large enough to seal at the top. Place the rhododendron cuttings in a location that receives bright light, but not direct sun, and maintains temperatures of 72 to 75 degrees F.

Step 5

Check the cuttings every week or two by pulling very lightly on them. If met with resistance, the roots have begun to form. Remove the plastic bag once this occurs and begin to feed the plants at every watering with liquid fertilizer mixed at half the recommended strength.

Step 6

Transplant the new rhododendron plants into the garden in spring, after all danger of frost has passed for your region.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not overwater the growing mixture, as this may cause the cutting to rot before roots have formed.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Sharp knife
  • Rooting hormone
  • Growing container
  • Peat moss
  • Perlite
  • Large plastic bag
  • Liquid fertilizer


  • Herbs 2000: Propagation of Rhododendrons
  • Fraser South Rhododendron Society: Rhododendron Basics---Propagation
  • Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology: Rooting Rhododendron and Azalea Cuttings
  • Virginia Technical University: Rhododendron Propagation from Cuttings
Keywords: start rhododendrons, plant rhododendrons, propagate rhododendrons, rhododendron cuttings

About this Author

Annita Lawson has been working as a freelance writer since 2004. Her work has been published in various web and print outlets, including The Dabbling Mum, A Virtuous Woman, and Pediatrics for Parents. Lawson is pursuing an Associate of Arts degree at Southeast Kentucky Community College. She enjoys sharing all that she has learned about parenting, healthy eating and living a frugal lifestyle.