From The Trash Can To The Garden
At the late flower show last June, after all entries were made, I noticed that some azalea sprays were not being entered and were destined for the trash pail. With an idea for a table centerpiece, I gathered a few. But by the time I returned home, the flowers had wilted, so that idea was out.
I decided to try rooting them. I pinched out the new growth (the light green at the end of most branches), and placed them in a 50 / 50 mixture of perlite and peat moss. Most cuttings consisted of two or three leaves. I put absolutely nothing else in, no root-tone, no fertilizer, no hormones. I covered my cuttings with Saran wrap, not polyethylene or anything hard to find and installed a plain fluorescent light 8 to 12 inches above them in the basement.
The soil mixture was soaked thoroughly before planting or enclosing with Saran wrap.
Fluorescent lighting time was not consistent. I tried to keep it 50 percent on and 50 percent off, in terms of days, not hours. When the plastic covering started losing its water beads, I re-watered.
The one mistake I made was to disbelieve how successful I was. All the cuttings were rooted long before I thought they could be. In late September, they were so rooted they had to be cut apart. When I put them outdoors, frost was soon to follow and they were tender and full of new growth. Ninety percent of the well rooted azaleas were lost because they should have been put out sooner. I gave a dozen or so away in mid- to late August and all are doing fine. They should have been put outdoors in mid to late August.
When the New York Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society offers you the sprays of evergreen azaleas for 10C a spray (after a show) they are offering you the finest azaleas in the State, not by the spray, but by the 20 or 30 cuttings you can grow from that one spray with little time and effort.
If you cannot make a show, ask one of our members where you can get cuttings and more than likely they will say in their own backyards.
Reprinted from the New York Chapter Newsletter.
(Some chapters strictly forbid the removal of any show entries by anyone except the exhibitor. Editor)