How to Take Rhododendron Cuttings
Many people are familiar with the type of rhododendron known as the azalea, a popular choice when giving a flowering potted house plant. Rhododendrons are also used to brighten the landscape, and prefers light shade and a warm climate. One way to start a new rhododendron is to take a cutting from a parent plant. This cutting is referred to as a softwood cutting.
Plan to take the cutting from the parent rhododendron during the spring or early summer.
Sanitize your gardening shears. If you use dirty shears, you risk spreading disease from one plant to another.
- Many people are familiar with the type of rhododendron known as the azalea, a popular choice when giving a flowering potted house plant.
Look for a branch or stem that is new growth. Seek out a young stem that is green, with new leaves established. If you were to bend it and it snapped like a fresh asparagus stalk, it would be the correct maturity.
Cut off a 5 to 7 inch piece of the stem. Avoid stems with weak growth or stems with excessively aggressive growth.
Start Rhododendrons From Cuttings
There are more than 1,000 species of woody trees and shrubs that fall within the Rhododendron genus, including the tree rhododendron (Rhododendron arboretum), dwarf azalea (Rhododendron atlanticum) and American rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum). This may not be necessary if you have had a significant amount of rain lately. Select branches for cuttings that are growing upright and have a terminal bud at the end of them if possible. Dip your pruning shears into the sanitizing solution and take a cutting that is 2 1/2 to 3 inches long. To increase the likelihood of successful propagation, you may wish to take several cuttings. Remove all but four to six leaves near the tip of your cutting. Cut off one-third to one-half of each of the remaining leaves. If the specific rhododendron variety you took a cutting from has needles instead of leaves, remove all branches and needles from the bottom 1 1/2 inches of the cutting. Gently move the soil around the cuttings after two months to see if roots are present; when the cuttings begin rooting they can be transplanted to a pot or outdoor location for further growth.
- Look for a branch or stem that is new growth.
- If the specific rhododendron variety you took a cutting from has needles instead of leaves, remove all branches and needles from the bottom 1 1/2 inches of the cutting.
Ann Johnson has been a freelance writer since 1995. She previously served as the editor of a community magazine in Southern California and was also an active real-estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University, Fullerton.