Azaleas are flowering plants in the rhododendron family that produce pink, fragrant flowers. Rhododendrons are very difficult to propagate. In fact, the only successful methods are typically seeds or grafting. While seeds can be used, they do not always produce the desired variety of rhododendron due to the unpredictability of pollen. Grafting is the gardening practice of placing the desired variety of rhododendron directly onto the stem of a young plant that was grown from a seed to produce exactly the desired variety of flower. Side grafting is the most successful means for grafting azaleas.
Make an incision on the rootstock roughly 1 1/2 inches from the root ball. The cut should be made downward, shallow and one inch in length.
Taper the end of the bud stick and place in gently into the incision. Be sure to match the cambium layers on at least one side of the bud stick with the cambial layers on the rootstock.
Wrap the graft tightly with grafting tape to hold it firmly in place and encourage a strong bond.
Place the grafted plant in the sweat box and surround the plant with damp peat moss. Cover the sweat box with its glass sash and maintain an internal temperature of 68 to 70 degrees.
Cut back the undergrowth on the plant after six to eight weeks, or once new growth can be seen on the plant. At this time the plant's graft should be exposed to open air to toughen the graft. Cut back the growth again after 30 days and the graft should have excellent growth by then.
Things You Will Need
- Sharp grafting knife
- Rootstock, roughly the thickness of an average pencil
- Budstick, roughly four inches in length
- Grafting tape
- Sweat box
- Peat moss
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