Propagating Rhododendrons

What You'll Need
Sharp cutting tool
Root hormone treatment
Garden gloves

You can propagate a rhododendron at home from cuttings, grafts, layering or seeds. Use these tips to grow new rhododendrons.

Directions to Use Cuttings

Cutting produces identical rhododendrons.

  • Step 1: Prepare a Rooting Container

    Layer into a new, clean 6-inch deep container a small amount of new potting soil mixed with peat, new sand, perlite or fresh bark, so that the mixed medium is 3 to 4 inches deep.

  • Step 2: Remove a Rhododendron Branch and Plant the Cutting

    Slice off a branch 2 to 3 inches long, from a semi-hard wood stem's tip with at least 3 leaves on it. Do this after flowering and before frost. Notch the base of the cutting on two sides and dip this base in root hormone, containing indolebutyric acid. Stand the branch in the rooting pot and water well. Pack the potting soil in firmly so that the base tip is 2 inches down in the soil. Mist the leaves only, 4 times daily with a mist sprayer. Avoid excess moistening of the soil. Cover the pot with a plastic bag over a frame of bent straws and put near a north window, to avoid direct sunlight.

Directions for Grafting

Grafting produces a plant identical to the grafted limb.

  • Step 1:    Prepare the Plant Receiving the Graft

    Cut off the recipient plant horizontally at the tip, cutting into green soft wood. Notch it vertically at the tip down about 1 inch.

  • Step 2:    Cut and Shape the Graft Stock

    Remove a desirable graft plant, the same diameter as the recipient, with 3 viable leaves. Shape the base end of the graft into a "V" about 1 inch long overall. Insert this V into the recipient plant's notch. Make sure the cambium (just below the outer bark) of the graft and recipient touch each other. Wrap plant grafting tape around the outside of the join to seal the graft.

Directions for Layering

Layering uses the rhododendron's ability to self-root from branches.

  • Step 1:    Bend One or More Branches to the Ground and Cover

    Start by bending branches back till at least 12 inches of them touch the ground. Make small cuts in the groundward side, and weigh these branches down with rocks. Mounding soil over the bent-back branches will feed and protect them until roots form.

  • Step 2:    Remove the Rooted Stock and Plant

    After 1 to 2 years, the branch should form viable roots. In spring, cut the rooted stock from the plant and transplant it into an area with acid soil, intermittent shade and superior drainage. The plant should form flowers the following spring.