can you root cuttings from a rhododendron?

Morgan Hill, CA(Zone 9b)

i have a very very old plant and its slowly getting closer to its death. it has a couple healthy green sprigs shooting up from the branches....can i cut them off and root them???? if so how do you do it???

Holland, OH(Zone 5b)

Yes, you can stick softwood cuttings of a rhodie, but it's usually reserved for the pros. You should use a rooting hormone and place the cuttings in sterilized potting soil. They will need to be kept in bright indirect light and misted on a regular basis. If they get too wet they rot. If they get too dry the die. Moisture loss or fungus are the chief killers of cuttings. You'll need about a 4" softwood shoot with a vegatitve bud at the top. Strip off all of the leaves but one at the top. If the leaf is very large cut half of it off. Slightly pare the bottom 1-1/2" on all sides to just expose the cambium. This is where the roots will form. Since you don't have a mister and a greenhouse use a pot with a plastic bag over it and keep a close eye on it for moisture. Mist with water periodically to keep things moist but not dripping. I've done this in a greenhouse at a botanical garden with instruction and supervision. ( I'm a Master Gardener volunteer.) Different rhodies take take different amounts of time to root.

I would recommend that you try layering instead. Bend over a shoot to the ground. Nick the bark at the point the shoot can easily touch the ground to expose the cambium but be very careful not to break the wood in two. Avoid as much breakage as possible. Where the shoot touches the ground ( and is nicked ) bury as much as you can of the branch with good soil. Use a ground peg or soil staple to peg the branch tight to the ground. If the branch is buried long enough it will root at the nick. In a year or so you can separate the new plant from the old one. I have layered several of my own rhodies. It just takes patience. Good luck.

Morgan Hill, CA(Zone 9b)

wow...thats alot of work. haha. but how long does it take to root if you choose the softwood cutting rout?????

Hurst, TX(Zone 7b)

The range is probably around 6 weeks to 4 months, depending on the type of plant. Rooting for a large-leaf rhododendron may take 3-4 months; less for evergreen azaleas. See the article below for some guidelines. I too think that layering is easier though. Misting, proper bottom heat, etc... Too many chances to forget something. I recommend any hormone containing indolebutyric acid; it will make rooting easier.

http://www.rhododendron.org/v48n4p201.htm

This message was edited Aug 31, 2009 3:17 AM

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