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How to layer rhododendrons

Find out how to propagate new rhododendron plants from layering.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do not To do in February

Do not To do in March

Do not To do in April

Do not To do in May

Do To do in June

Do To do in July

Do To do in August

Do To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

While you can’t take cuttings from rhododendrons, there’s 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.

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You Will Need

  • Rhododendron plant
  • Sharp knife
  • Hormone rooting powder
  • Strong wire
  • Multi-purpose, peat-free compost
  • Stone

Total time:

Step 1

How to layer rhododendrons - choosing a low-growing stem
How to layer rhododendrons – choosing a low-growing stem

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.

Step 2

How to layer rhododendrons - laying the shoot on the ground
How to layer rhododendrons – laying the shoot on the ground

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.

Step 3

How to layer rhododendrons - pegging the shoot using wire
How to layer rhododendrons – pegging the shoot using wire

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.

Step 4

How to layer rhododendrons - weighing the stem down with a heavy stone
How to layer rhododendrons – weighing the stem down with a heavy stone

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.

Gardening gloves. Photo: Getty Images.