1. Q: I have some azaleas in my yard and would like to take cuttings off of to make some more plants. Is this possible and if so could you let me and how I would go about it?

A: You will probably be better off carrying a bloom of the azalea you have to a good nurseryman and let him match it with a variety. Azaleas can be rooted and are rooted commecially but only under a mist system which keeps the cutting moistened during the rooting period of 4-6 weeks. Uusally new growth is used which is 4-6 inches long. The cutting bases are dipped in a rooting hormone such as Rootone or Hormondin, the strongest concentration of IBA available. You could try taking some cuttings, dipping the base in the IBA powder, putting the cuttings in a moistened potting mix, and covering each cutting with a Mason jar or a plastic wrap over a rooting box or frame to insure high humidity. Good luck with either of the decisions you make; there is nothing that makes spring any more beautiful than the azalea bloom.

2. Q: My husband and I recently bought a house that has many flower beds and are not yet knowledgeable about how to care for them. We have 4 hydrangeas and 3 azaleas that are growing wild. We want to trim them up so that they will look nice. It is my understanding that you should wait until the fall. Is this true? How exactly do I go about doing it?

A: Hydrangeas and azaleas are pruned after they bloom in the spring. If you are anywhere in the Southeastern U.S., the ideal time would have been May. Rather than leaving them too large with an unkept look, I would go ahead and prune them now. You may decrease next year's bloom somewhat but not too much, especially if you mulch around the plants with pine needles or rotting leaves and keep the plants moist and growing. Pruning involves removing selected branches back down into the bush and cutting at the branch junction at the next largest branch. After reducing the size of your plant with this technique the bush does not have the sheared look but looks naturally smaller. Understand, DO NOT SHEAR the plants but selectively remove branches until the plant is smaller.

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