Propagating Native Azaleas?

joyb26(7b AL)April 3, 2006

My mom has a beautiful native azalea in her yard. From looking at pictures, I would say it is a Piedmont Azalea. Does anyone know if this azalea can be propogated by cuttings? I'm having a hard time finding one of these at a nursery.

Thanks! Joy

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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

R. canescens, the Florida Pinxter or Piedmont Azalea, is often confused with R. periclymenoides. Both are medium deciduous azaleas that are found in the Carolinas but can be separated by the flower tubes, which in R. periclymenoides are fuzzy. R. canescens also has tiny hairs, but they are sticky and glandular. Another noticeable difference is that when a flower of R. periclymenoides dies, a ridge on the corolla tube tends to catch on the end of the pistil so that a flower cluster past its prime consists of several dangling blossoms. Although widespread in the eastern half of the U.S., these two wild azaleas differ in distribution. In South Carolina, for example, R. periclymenoides is a Piedmont plant, with almost no specimens reported from the Sandhills or Coastal plain, while R. canescens is predominantly a Low Country plant absent from the Piedmont, except in counties that border the Savannah River. In general, if it grows wild north of South Carolina, it's likely R. periclymenoides; south of the Palmetto State and it's probably R. canescens. Both species prefer moist, humus-laden, acidic soil but seem to do equally well in shade or sun. Old specimens can reach heights of 12-15 feet and have multiple stems or trunks up to 5" in diameter.

Deciduous rhododendrons are propagated by seed, grafting or cutting. Deciduous azaleas are very tricky to propagate from cuttings. Tissue culture is used to propagate varieties that are difficult to root. It is a laboratory technique that is very successful.

Take cuttings of deciduous azaleas when the new growth is soft and pliant. This is often coincident with time of bloom in early June. The ability to root decreases rapidly as new growth matures. Select cuttings daily for best results. Trim cuttings below a node (overall length of cuttings 3 to 5 inches) and dip in a root hormone containing fungicide. Insert in a medium of 60% peat moss and 40% horticultural perlite. Usually bottom warmth of 75°F is used to encourage root growth. In late August, transplant cuttings that are rooted and grow on in the greenhouse with supplementary light (14-hours a day) to prevent dormancy and induce new growth. In the fall after new growth has matured, transfer to a cool, frost-free cool (35°F to 41°F) environment to induce dormancy. As new growth develops in the spring, transfer plants to a shaded environment. [after "Rhododendrons and Azaleas" by J. Lounsbery, Horticultural Research Institute of Ontario, Canada]

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 4:57PM
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joyb26(7b AL)

Thanks so much for the help! Mom's azalea is blooming right now though, so I'll try to go ahead and get cuttings.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2006 at 12:45PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Be sure to use the rooting hormone. You need medium strength. To strong and it makes the cutting stay dormant, and too weak and they don't root. The light and hormone are selected so the plants don't go dormant. That is the main problem once you get them rooted.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2006 at 3:53PM
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winged_mammal

An easier way to propagate it would be using the layering technique. Bury any low hanging branches in some good acid soil and give them a year to develop roots. Then cut them from the main plant and transplant.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 4:52PM
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primoscape_yahoo_com

I am propagating native azaleas in nearing frames. They have rooted but no new growth. Cuttings were taken the end of May. I asume they are dorment. Do I still have a chance to pull them out of dormency?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 7:26PM
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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

Wayne: Your best plan is to wait until spring before trying to remove the cuttings from the frame. Once you see new growth starting you can place the cuttings into pots or a new bed. Many plants will root and then go dormant. The tricky part is to get them to recommmence growing. Patience is the key.

Btw, the Nearing frame is a pretty old method, but your experience shows just how effective it remains.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2010 at 5:22AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

I agree with both Wayne's and maingrower's concerns. Most people can root deciduous azaleas, but the experts are the ones who get them to break dormancy. One approach I have heard is to not give up. Apparently the ones that don't break dormancy the first year eventually will. One grower put those that hadn't broken dormancy to one side and forgot about them. He discovered them several years later and they had all broken dormancy and were doing well.

Most techniques I have heard of involve preventing them from going dormant by rooting them with bottom heat under lights or at least providing some light every hour or two for a total of 14 hours of light per day. Then getting some growth before winter.

In your case they will have to be left dormant until next spring unless you want to put in indoors under lights.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2010 at 4:09PM
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primoscape_yahoo_com

Thank you for the input mainegrower and rhodyman.I will try medium strength hormone next year. Do you think I should cut it back 1/3? I will also try to force a few plants indoors.
I did join the this web page but it would not take the name Wayne so I went with Wayneman. (I am new at this)

    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 10:21AM
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