(351) Production of Rhododendron delavayi Franch.

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  • 1 1Central South Forestry University, Resource and Environment College, Changsha, Hunan, 410004, China
  • | 2 2Institute of Biology, Plant Biology Experiment Base

Rhododendrondelavayi Franch. is an evergreen tree up to 5 m tall. Since few tree rhododendron are available in the market, the demand for this plant is high. Unfortunately, the supply is limited due to production difficulty. Under natural conditions (control), seed germination rates were 3% to 5%. When a special propagation bed was set up with mixed media of humus, loess, and sand, the germination rate reached 75% if the temperature was set from 20–25 °C, humidity was 80% to 90%, and irrigation water pH was 6–-6.5. In growing Rhododendrondelavayi, medium pH, water-holding capacity, aeration, and organic matter were considered. The medium, mixed with cinder, loess, humus, and perlite, yielded a 95% survival rate and the tallest plants. To produce aesthetically pleasing plants with flowers, apical dominance was removed and the growth of lateral buds was promoted by pinching the terminal buds of the seedlings in their second year. Also, 3N–1P–1K fertilizer should be used to increase seedling growth. With proper pruning, the seedlings were flowering and ready for market in 3–4 years (instead of 8 years under natural conditions). The acceptable germination rate, better growing conditions, and feasible cultural practices should enable growers to produce quality plants, which ultimately enhance the popularity of Rhododendrondelavayi.

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