How to layer rhododendrons

Do it:

Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep

Takes just:

30 minutes

While you can't take cuttings from rhododendrons, there is a much simpler technique you can try - layering. Do it over the summer and by the following spring you'll have the beginnings of many new rhododendron plants.

You will need

  • Established rhododendron plant
  • Sharp knife
  • Rooting hormone (powder or liquid)
  • Wire or stick
  • Compost
  • Heavy stone

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Select a suitably low-growing and pliable young branch that will bend down to soil level. Remove any side-shoots but keep the cluster of leaves at the end of the stem.

About 15cm from the shoot tip, make a nick using a sharp knife on the underside of the branch - aim to cut just halfway through the stem. Dust the area with hormone rooting powder and lay the shoot down on the ground.

Dig a shallow hole at the point where the stem touches the ground and peg it down firmly to stop it springing up. Cover the stem at this point with compost.

Weight the buried shoot down with a heavy stone and water regularly to keep the area moist. By autumn the layer will have rooted. Cut if off from the parent plant and replant.

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Although the rhododendron layer will have rooted by autumn, to give it the best chance of survival, wait until spring before you separate it from the parent plant.

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