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Propagating Azaleas: Your Guide to Stunning Spring Color

Azaleas are a well-loved flower that can be grown both indoors and out. They’re beautiful to have around with their bright and colorful petals.

If you already have azaleas and want more or know someone who has azaleas you envy, good news! You’ll be happy to know you can get your own new plant from an existing one. This technique is called propagating azaleas, and it’s pretty easy to do yourself.

Keep reading to learn all about how to propagate azaleas on your own for all the colorful flowers you could want.

What Is Propagating Azaleas?

Propagation is a great way to use a plant you already have to create new ones.

You can propagate most plants and it allows you to make a clone that is genetically the same as the original. What makes this such an appealing route to go is that you know exactly what you’re getting and, maybe best of all, it’s free! You can use your own plant or a friend’s (with their permission, of course).

Azaleas can be multiplied this way very successfully. The most common way to propagate azaleas is to take a cutting and allow it to send out its own roots so it can eventually grow into an entirely new plant.

Using this method is fairly beginner friendly, but there are a few things to keep in mind to give you the best possible chance of success at propagating azaleas.

Picking the Right Time to Start

The best time to propagate azaleas is in mid to late summer.

If your azalea plant stays inside, you can probably get away with doing this any time of year. Outside plants will definitely do best in mid to late summer as they’re more exposed to the elements. Not only is this dependent on temperatures, but also daylight hours that signal seasonal changes to plants.

If you plan to grow your azaleas outside, this also sets you up to have it ready to plant in fall, which is ideal timing. You can also plant azaleas in the spring, but for propagating azaleas, fall will work out best.

Yellow and orange azalea blooms.

What You’ll Need to Propagate Azaleas

Set yourself up for success with the right prep work before you get started propagating azaleas.

Make sure you’re starting with a robust, healthy plant, and give it a thorough watering a few days before you start. This will not only help you ensure you’re getting good genetics, but also lower the risk of damage to the mother plant. You don’t want to take a cutting and risk killing your original plant.

You’ll also need a pair of very sharp shears or a knife, and they should be sanitized so you don’t inadvertently introduce harmful bacteria to both plants.

Prepare a small pot with a gritty soil and a little bit of compost, and gently water it enough to moisten the soil. Make sure you choose a pot and soil that both offer good drainage, and you should also sterilize the pot first.

Grab a clear plastic bag, the top half of a clear plastic bottle, or a propagator lid if you have one.

It’s optional, but you can also use a rooting hormone to help stimulate your azalea cutting to start growing roots as soon as possible.

Finally, select a spot indoors that receives bright indirect light for your cutting to grow.

Taking an Azalea Cutting

An azalea shrub after spring blooming.

With all your gear ready to go, start inspecting your mother azalea plant to find the best place to take a cutting from. The best time of day to take a cutting is early in the morning.

It’s important to choose carefully for the health of both the cutting and the existing plant. Check for branches that are semi-hardened, meaning that they can bend but aren’t overly flexible. These branches will also have more mature leaves on them already.

Clip your chosen stem right below where a leaf attaches, removing roughly a 5-inch length. Carefully strip off any leaves on the bottom third of the stem and remove any existing buds to encourage root growth first.

If you’re using a rooting hormone, apply it now. The product linked above is a powder, so all you have to do is dip the cut end of the stem about an inch into the powder.

Make a small hole in your prepared soil, or just gently push the bottom third of the cutting down into it. Then, give the soil a quick firming up so the cutting can stay upright on its own without support.

Place your bag, bottle, or lid over the cutting to help retain humidity and warmth like a miniature greenhouse. Finally, place your new cutting in the spot of your choice where it will get bright indirect sunlight.

Congratulations, you’re well on your way to propagating azaleas for the first time!

Taking Care of Your Azalea Cuttings

A rooted azalea cutting producing a single bloom.

Once you’ve taken a cutting, it’s important to care for it properly to ensure it can grow into a full plant. Regularly monitor your propagated azalea so you know if it needs extra care.

Be careful not to overwater. You want to keep the soil moist without letting it get soggy, and you should allow it to dry out a bit before the next time you water it again.

If you feel like it just isn’t drying out enough, you can remove the bag or bottle to release some of the humidity and replace it as needed.

It’s best to check on your cutting frequently in the beginning, or at least until you have a feel for how often it needs watering. This will also alert you to any other potential problems early on, before they become difficult to fix.

Knowing When Your Azalea Cutting Is Ready to Plant

It will typically take about two months for your cutting to grow adequate roots that are ready to be planted.

If everything is looking good and you don’t have any concerns about the health of your cutting, you can start to check for roots. Around the 8-week mark, very carefully grab the main stem and pull upward with very light pressure.

If you feel resistance keeping the cutting in place, it likely has a solid start to its root system and is probably ready to be planted or repotted. If you don’t feel any resistance, give it a bit longer to continue growing and make sure you don’t pull it up out of the soil.

Once you feel those roots, you can remove the bottle or bag entirely as well. These cuttings are also ready to get some direct morning sunlight, so look for a new place to put them.

By late summer, you can separate your cuttings out and give them each their own pot or plant them directly outside. You can also put them in pots first if you prefer to wait until spring to plant them outside.

Planting a propagated azalea is a big change for a young plant, so you want to make sure it’s robust enough to get through the shock period. You may also want to add some compost or fertilizer into the soil before transplanting so your new propagated azalea has all the nutrients it needs right away.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pink azalea blooms.

Can azaleas be grown from cuttings?

Yes! This is a great way to propagate azaleas.

Many people prefer to take cuttings over growing from seed for propagating azaleas, as this method gives you a bit of a head start. Growing from seed can take a long time, and you might be waiting a while before realizing your seeds never germinated.

Can azaleas be rooted in water?

Azaleas are a woody plant, which means they typically can’t be rooted in water successfully. That is a method best suited for softer-stemmed plants.

It’s best to use a well-draining soil or mix, like perlite and sphagnum moss. This will offer the right conditions for propagating azaleas.

How long does it take for propagated azaleas to root?

It can take anywhere from six weeks to three or four months for a propagated azalea to grow proper roots.

This mainly depends on the specific type, but no matter what, it’s important to monitor your propagated azaleas carefully. That way, you don’t transplant them too soon when they aren’t yet ready for the next stage.

What time of year is best to propagate azaleas?

Mid to late summer is usually the best time to take a cutting for propagating azaleas.

This will give the cutting time to establish a root system before fall, which is a great time to plant it in the ground or a pot.

Propagated azaleas can also be planted outside in the spring, so you can repot them once the roots are sturdy enough and keep them inside until spring arrives.

Enjoy Your New Azalea Plants

Salmon-colored azalea blooms.

Don’t be intimidated by azalea propagation–even if it doesn’t work out the first time, you can keep trying.

It’s a fun and exciting way to create a garden bursting with color every spring, and it’s perfect for anyone on a budget. You’ll also be able to fill your home with these fun and pretty flowers for a spectacular houseplant collection.

There are so many plants you can grow via propagation, so don’t stop with azaleas!