In order to fully grasp Azalea propagation and care let's first understand exactly what kind of plants azaleas are. A member of the Rhododendron family, this diverse group of plants could make up an entire website of their own. There are over 1,000 varieties of azaleas being grown in North America.
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For the purpose of simplicity, I will limit my writing to two simple categories. Evergreen azaleas, and deciduous azaleas, and basic propagation of each.
The above photo is "Herbert Azalea", an evergreen azalea hardy enough to survive as far north as zone 4. Of the evergreen azaleas that are only a few varieties that actually do well in the north. Some of the ones that I've used with success in zone 5 are Rosebud (pink), White Rosebud, Stewartstonia (red), Cascade (white), Hershey Red, Hino Crimson (red) and Delaware Valley White.
I get a lot of argument when I make statements like this because a lot of other varieties are sold in the north. However, I've backed that statement up with my grocery money, and during my many years landscaping homes and businesses, I lost more money on azaleas that were not hardy enough to tolerate our winters than any other plant I've ever used. Therefore I stand by statements.
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The photos above and below are Rosebud Azalea, a beautiful evergreen azalea that does really well here in zone 5. If you look closely you can see that the bloom actually looks like that of a Rose Bush.
A deciduous azalea is an azalea that loses it's leaves during the winter. The opposite of an evergreen.
Most of the deciduous azaleas have brilliant orange or yellow blooms that appear in very early spring. Also known as Exbury Mollis Azalea.
These beautiful plants can be grown from seed. After the plant blooms, it immediately goes into seed production. It takes all summer for the seeds to mature, then in the fall the seed pods open, and the tiny seeds are released into the air.
You can collect the seeds by watching the seed pods very closely, and as soon as they begin to turn brown pick them and place them in a paper bag, place the bag in a cool dry place until the pods open.
Once the pods are fully open you can spread the seeds and pods on a flat filled with good, well drained potting or growing soil. Pick the pod husks out and throw them away if you like, or you can leave them there. Water thoroughly, and then let the medium become almost dry before you water again. Keep the flat in an area where the air temperature is around 70 degrees F.
Once the seedlings begin to germinate they will need sunlight, and they can also be transplanted into 2-1/4" pots. A friend of mine used to transplant his when they were tiny, he'd use an old fashioned fountain pen to pick them out of the flat and move them to the small pots. The little hook on the fountain pen worked great to snag the roots.
For more information on growing plants from seed, click here.