Propagating very special Azaleas in SylvaGrow Ericaceous

We are always delighted to hear from our customers and were particularly pleased to hear from SylvaGrow® Ericaceous user Geoffrey White about his success with propagating azaleas. He writes:

“When you visited last year you saw that I had set some cuttings of evergreen azaleas in your compost. I can report that the success rate was quite reasonable and would have been good if I had spotted a marauding caterpillar in the propagator rather earlier than I did.

Evergreen azaleas are perhaps the easiest rhododendrons to propagate from cuttings and deciduous azaleas perhaps the most difficult especially with the rather simple equipment that I have.  I grow in the garden some Mollis azaleas (Rhododendron molle ssp. japonicum) raised from seed wild collected in Japan and sent to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh by the Kanagawa Botanic Garden near Tokyo.  They are special and rather fine so when they set a few seed capsules last year I decided to try to propagate them by seed.  They could be hybrids of course but the Mollis azaleas flower before the other deciduous azaleas.

I am sure that you are aware that rhododendron seed is very fine and the pundits insist that the seed must be sown on the surface of pure peat or chopped spaghnum overlying peat; composted bark is definitely not recommended.  Nevertheless, I decided to try SylvaGrow Ericaceous.  The seed was sown on the surface of a pot of the compost on March 1st and kept in full light in a closed heated propagator.  Germination occurred after about three weeks and when they had developed three to four true leaves they were pricked out into a tray of the same compost on June 1st. Finally, on August 15th they were potted up individually into 11 cm pots using the same compost treated with a sprinkle of Ericord Root Grow and mulched with your Pine Mini Mulch.  The attached photo was taken on September 26th and at present the seedling leaves are colouring prior to leaf fall.

I know that you have trialled your compost on a wide range of plants and my good friend Billy Carruthers of Binny Plants just east of Edinburgh has been very successfully using SylvaMix in his nursery for many years but I just wondered if you had tried your ericaceous compost for raising rhododendron seed.  I can certainly confirm that it can be very successful.

Good luck with the continuing roll-out of your excellent products.”