JARS v45n2 - Rooting Rhododendron Leaves

Rooting Rhododendron Leaves
Richard W. Chaikin
Boston, Massachusetts

Being essentially a pack rat in human disguise, it has always bothered me to throw out good pieces of rhododendron plant material when striking cuttings. Perfectly good sections of stem and leaves were being discarded by one who is essentially a saver by heart. This goes against the very core of my being.
Thus, while striking a group of vireya cuttings, it suddenly occurred to me, as if by a bolt of lightening, that I should dip that piece of vireya leaf from the named cultivar, 'Felicitas', into the rooting hormone.

Materials and Methods
The hormone solution was Woods rooting Hormone and water, 1:20 parts. The leaf was placed into a Perlite/peat mixture of 60/40. About of the leaf was buried in the mix and the liner type container was placed into a Lofthouse box for three months and was watered weekly. Without disturbing the leaf in any way, the liner was then transferred to a mister which provided mist only when the screen was dry from evaporation. After five months of mist, the leaf was removed from the mix and was photographed.

rhododendron leaf with roots
'Felicitas' leaf rooted
Photo by Richard Chaikin

Results and Conclusions
As is evident by the accompanying photograph, it is clearly possible to grow roots on a rhododendron leaf. It does appear that it may be necessary to later provide a means to grow a stem and, more importantly, to obtain growth buds. However, since it is known that dormant buds and side growth is possible from stems and branches, it may indeed not be too farfetched to hope for growth from the base of the leaf. Certainly this has occurred with growth hormones such as Alar when applied to azaleas and lepidote rhododendrons.