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Rhododendrons take root with difficulty. Under optimal conditions, only one of 5-10 cuttings takes root. In order for the layers to take root, it is important to understand the features of the azalea root system and avoid common mistakes.
The expended efforts are compensated by obtaining a healthy plant, fully adapted to new conditions.
What is the root system of a rhododendron?
Azalea is characterized by a superficial root system of the fibrous type:
- there is no central rod;
- the lateral roots are highly developed;
- lies in the substrate no deeper than 30-40 cm.
Rhododendrons are mycorrhizal plants. Symbiotic fungi settle on their roots, helping to absorb water and mineral elements, as well as protecting against dangerous bacteria.
Description of the appearance of the roots and their photos
The root system of an azalea resembles a dense sponge: many thin brownish threads intertwine with each other, holding lumps of soil:
- in garden forms the underground part exceeds the overground part in spreading;
- at the pot - gets lost in a tight ball.
The thinnest roots seem to be pubescent - this is mycorrhiza formed by fungal hyphae.
Next, you can see how the roots of the rhododendron look in the photo.
The role of the organ in plant life
For plant life, only moisture, light and inorganic substances are needed. Roots are responsible for:
- water absorption;
- absorption of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and trace elements.
Mycorrhiza fungi are an additional protection against infections, a source of antibiotics. Without them, the plant grows weakened or becomes completely unviable.
In perennials, the root system helps to survive unfavorable periods. Even if the aerial part completely dies, the plant can recover from the root buds.
The main problems with the underground part of the flower
In growing any plants, it is important to adhere to two rules: do not overfill or overdry. Rhododendrons have a very sensitive root system that quickly absorbs water, like a sponge, so watering must be constantly monitored, to check the moisture content of the soil.
Due to the formation of mycorrhiza, the underground part of the azalea grows strongly, therefore it is important to choose a pot of suitable sizes... If the growing container is too small, the roots are cramped, air does not flow to them, rotting and souring occurs.
Because of what can she die?
Prolonged stagnation of water is detrimental to the root system. Especially at temperatures below 18 degrees. In a humid and cold environment, harmful bacteria and fungi actively develop, which infect the underground part of the plant and destroy it (read about azalea diseases and pests here).
Important. Incorrect transplantation can also lead to the death of roots. It is impossible to completely wash out the soil from the underground part, overdry it and treat it with fungicides of a wide spectrum of action. This is detrimental to mycorrhiza.
Step by step instructions: how to root a rhododendron from a twig?
Cuttings are used to root azaleas. They have their own characteristics in different varieties:
- Evergreen rhododendron cut off young lignified shoots 15-20 cm long. Correct cuttings do not bend, but break. There should be a ripe kidney at the top.
- In deciduous species non-lignified shoots with young light green developing leaves are taken on cuttings (read about the types of azaleas here). The length is 10-15 cm.
Cuttings are carried out from mid-summer to late autumn. Azalea takes root hard, it is better to stock up on a large number of cuttings. The main stages of the process:
- Cut the stalk with a sharp, clean knife - preferably diagonally. Tear off the lower leaves.
- From the cut upwards, you need to remove a strip of bark 0.5 cm wide and 1.5-2 cm long. It is in this area that new roots will form.
- Process the stalk with a rooting tool. Better to use strong drugs.
- Prepare a light rooting substrate: peat or vermiculite. You can use a special soil mixture for low acidity rhododendrons.
- To deepen the stalk into the substrate by 3-4 cm, moisten the soil surface and build a mini-greenhouse. You can use a clear plastic bottle or plastic bag. Make sure that the coating does not touch the leaves.
- Spray the plant daily and ventilate for about an hour. Provide good illumination and high temperature, not lower than 22 degrees. Optimal - bottom heating.
- The wait for the result usually takes up to 4 months. When young shoots appear, the rooting process is considered complete, the mini-greenhouse can be removed.
We suggest watching a video on how to root azalea cuttings:
For successful rooting in the substrate, it is recommended to add coniferous soil in a 1: 1 ratio to the main soil mixture. Such soil will be enriched with natural microflora forming mycorrhiza with rhododendron. "Friendly" mushrooms help the roots develop better. Do not use a universal potting substrate.
For the successful formation of mycorrhiza, the soil must be:
These factors must be carefully controlled to avoid root problems.
Good drainage and watering into the pan will help keep the underground part of the azalea from rotting. For planting, it is better to use a short and wide pot.
Inspection of the underground part of the plant is carried out with each transplant:
- From the root ball, gently wash the soil along the edges.
- The roots are straightened, examined, the damaged ones are removed: dead, rotten, suffocated.
The soil under the rhododendron should be constantly moist, but not wet. To create optimal acidity, pine bark, litter from a coniferous forest are added to the soil, and vermiculite is added for good air permeability. To root a whimsical azalea, acidic soil, high temperature and good lighting are needed.
Read more about azalea care here.
The correct selection of cuttings will help to achieve a successful result. It is important that mycorrhiza forms on the roots and develops well in the future. This contributes to a healthy plant.