How Do I Propagate Rhododendron Cuttings and How to Move Plants

by Carole
I have a Rhodo like the one in the photo. How do I grow a new one from a cutting? Also, can I dig up and move a Rhodo, Azalea and Pieris plant that are not doing well in their current spot? What would be the best time of year, i.e. spring, summer, autumn or winter to move these three plants to a better spot with better soil conditions. Thanks
  3 answers
  • Luis Luis on Jun 26, 2014
    There's a complicated way to propagate them by taking cuttings and nursing them along for months. Or you can propagate rhododendrons by a method called tip layering. You train a branch of the plant to grow roots while it's still connected to the mother plant. When the branch has grown enough roots to survive on its own, it is cut from the mother plant and planted separately. Choose a branch that is near the outside of your rhododendron bush and long enough for the end of it to touch the ground when it is bent over. Bend the chosen branch so that it touches the soil about 6 inches from the end where new growth appears. Place your finger on the bottom of the branch where it is in contact with the soil, about 6 inches from the very end. Make a small notch with the knife at the place your finger is. This little wound in the branch is where roots will eventually begin to grow. Push the branch into the soil so there is good contact between the little wound and the soil. Mound additional soil on top of the branch at the point where it is in contact with the soil. Let the growing end of the branch stick out from the soil as it may. You will probably have to hold onto the branch with your other hand to keep it from snapping back into an upright position while you are working with it. Once you have the wounded part buried, place the rock or brick on top of it. The weight of the rock will hold the branch and its wound in contact with the soil, which is where roots will form. Wait. It can take up to a year for enough roots to form before the branch is able to survive on its own. Once a small root mass has formed on the wounded part of the branch, cut it from the mother plant and plant it on its own.
    • See 1 previous
    • Luis Luis on Jun 27, 2014
      @Carole Do not transplant rhododendrons during extremely hot months, however. Instead, transplant rhododendrons in the spring in cooler climates and in the fall in warmer climates. Prepare the new planting area before digging the rhododendron up. According to the American Rhododendron Society, rhododendrons prefer a light soil with good drainage. Add compost to improve the soil, if necessary. Dig a hole that is just slightly larger than the existing roots of the rhododendron. Dig the root ball up carefully. Typically, a rhododendron grows wide and shallow. Try to include as much of the root system as possible in the root ball. Place the root ball carefully onto a tarp or a cart to transport the rhododendron to the new location. Loosen some of the small roots on the outside of the root ball before placing the root ball into the new hole. This will enable these roots to grow into the soil of the new hole. Place the top of the root ball so that it is level with the surrounding ground. Fill in the hole firmly with soil. Water the newly transplanted rhododendron often because the gets its moisture almost completely from the root ball.
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jun 26, 2014
    Layering, as Luis suggests, is exactly what I was going to recommend. Sometimes this will even happen for you. Just yesterday I was pruning back the dead portions on an anise shrub and inadvertently pulled up a branch that was lying on the ground. It had rooted in two places so I cut those off and potted them up and if all goes well I should have two new anise shrubs. As to when to transplant, avoid the hottest times of the year when the plant is actively growing. Fall is probably best, as the plant is naturally sending its energy toward the roots then. Make sure to keep them well-watered until they get reestablished and do not plant them too deep.
    • See 1 previous
    • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jun 27, 2014
      @Carole Your daffodils will be much happier in the ground than they are in pots unless they are the paperwhite variety. I don't know whether freesia would be hardy where you are.
  • Ajantha Cakes Ajantha Cakes on Sep 13, 2014
    Love your garden.