Tropical Style

How to Start a Baby Azalea Plant

With leathery or hairy leaves and trusses of all funnel-shaped blooms in white, purple and pink, azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) Add spring color to the garden. They grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. Baby plants can be produced by seeds, layering or cuttings, although plants from seed may not look the same as the parent plant.

Beginning From Seeds

You may harvest azalea seed pods once they begin to brown in autumn, storing them in paper envelopes to complete the drying process. Prepare a pot for those seeds in late autumn of the identical year, filling it up to within 1 inch of its top using a damp mix of 1 part peat moss and 1 part sand. After moistening milled sphagnum moss, squeeze out the excess water and distribute a 1/2-inch layer of the moss over the peat and sand mix. Scatter the azalea seeds onto the surface of the moss, cover the pot with plastic wrap, and place it with its 8 inches under fluorescent grow lights. In a temperature between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, the seeds will germinate within fourteen days to a month.

Beginning From Layers

In case you’ve got an azalea bush using low-hanging divisions, then dig a trench 1 to 2 inches deep, just below one of these divisions, in late spring or early summer. After scraping bark from the bottom of the branch with a knife or your fingernail, bend the branch down into the trench and cover component of its length — including the scraped portion — using dirt. Weigh the hidden part of the branch down with a brick or stone or secure it using the U-shaped pins used to anchor row covers. Catch 6 to 12 inches of the division’s tip protruding from the ground at the end of the trench, and stake that tip to a vertical position. After the branch was buried for a single year, then carefully loosen the dirt around it and dig it up to test for origins. If you see some, cut the frozen branch with its mom bush before transplanting it elsewhere.

Beginning From Cuttings

To spread evergreen azaleas, take two- to 5-inch cuttings from the hints of short shoots at any given time from late spring to early autumn, when these limbs are stiff enough to snap easily but not woody. For deciduous azaleas, take two- to 3-inch cuttings in late spring just. Leaving one bunch of leaves on top of each cutting, pinch off the lower leaves. For all azaleas except Indian azaleas (Azalea indica), that grow in USDA zones 8 to 11, scratch off the lower 1/2 inch of bark out of 1 side of each cutting with a knife or fingernail. Fill a pot with a moist mixture of 1 part peat and 1 part perlite. After dipping the foundation of a cutting in a solution of 1 part liquid rooting hormone combined with 20 parts of water for evergreen azaleas or 10 parts for deciduous azaleas, insert that foundation around 1 inch deep into the peat and perlite mix. After tamping it securely in position, so that at least one node is covered, then insert the following cutting 2 to 4 inches from the first. When you are finished, cover the pot with a inverted plastic bag that doesn’t touch the cuttings. Evergreen types will require bright, indirect light but no direct sunlight for six to eight weeks to root. Pots of deciduous cuttings should be placed under a grow light, timed to operate for 18 hours every day, for 2 months or until they root.

Caring for New Azaleas

Potted seedlings or cuttings which produce new development during the summer can be kept at a cold frame over winter and planted in the bottom the following spring. Cuttings that have not made new development by autumn ought to be kept indoors during the winter.

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