Azaleas are spring blooming shrubs that are available in both deciduous and evergreen varieties. Although they can be propagated by other methods, the easiest way for the home gardener to root an azalea is to use a method known as tip layering. The branch to be rooted is left on the mother plant until roots have formed. Propagation by tip layering has a higher success rate because the new plant derives nourishment from the mother plant until it is ready to be planted on its own. The only downfall to this method is that it takes up to a year from start to finish.
Choose a low-growing branch near the outside of your azalea bush. It should be long enough to bend over so that it makes contact with the ground about midway up its height. Mark the spot on the ground that corresponds to the spot on the midpoint of the branch when it is bent over and comes in contact with the ground.
Dig a trench two to three inches deep with a garden trowel at the point that you marked on the ground in Step 1.
Use a sharp knife to scrape away some of the bark on the side of the branch that makes contact with the ground at the point where it comes in contact with the ground. Scrape away about an inch of bark, but do not cut too deeply into the branch. It should be a small surface wound. This small wound is where the roots will emerge.
Dust the wound lightly with powdered root hormone.
Bend the branch over so that the wounded portion touches the ground. Keep one hand on the branch while you mound the soil up over the top of it. Immediately put a large rock or brick over the buried portion of the stem to keep it buried and in contact with the soil.
Check for the growth of roots after 10 to 12 months. Remove the rock while holding on to the stem. Gently release the stem. If it pops up out of the ground, no roots have yet formed. Re-bury the stem and wait another few months before checking it again. If the stem stays buried when you release it, roots have formed.
Cut the newly rooted azalea from the mother plant with the pruning clippers, but do not dig it up just yet. Leave it to grow for another 4 to 6 weeks in its current spot. This “adjustment” period will give the new plant time to get acclimated to growing without help from the mother plant before being uprooted and replanted.
Carefully dig up the new azalea and transplant to its final position in your garden.
Things You Will Need
- Garden trowel
- Sharp knife
- Powdered rooting hormone
- Heavy rock or brick
- Pruning clippers
- Tip layering is a nearly foolproof method of propagation which produces a high success rate of newly rooted plants.
- You can start several new azaleas from the same mother plant at the same time using the tip layering method.
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