Azalea seeds

I have seen quite a few auctions on Ebay for Azalea seeds. What part of the azalea produces seeds, and when do you harvest them? I have a bunch of beautiful azaleas that I'd love to gather seeds from and plant all over our property:) How long does it take them to grow from seed?
Angie
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I suspect it is quite difficult to germinate & grow azaleas from seed because:
1) I've never seen a seedling sprout anywhere near my many dozens of azaleas in my whole life, and
2) How many places can one buy azalea seeds?
HOWEVER: Azaleas are really easy to reproduce by rooting cuttings! In fact, just bend a low branch down, cover it with dirt, weigh it with a stone, and next season you'll have roots there and can transplant the new baby azalea!

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All seeds are produced by the flowers. After the flowers bloom, seed pods form. They usually stay closed through the winter so can be harvested anytime in the fall after they are ripe and dry.
Only seed from species rhododendron and species azaleas pollinated with pollen from the same species will come true to the parent plants. Plants grown from any other seed are hybrids and are not true replicas of the parent plants. Gather seed capsules in the fall when they turn brown. Allow them to dry, remove the seeds and keep them in an envelope. In February, sow the seeds in a small pot containing 50% milled sphagnum moss and 50% horticultural perlite. Do not cover the seeds with the medium. The germinating mixture should be sterilized with boiling water and allowed to cool before sowing. The pot needs to be in a controlled humid environment. Polyethylene bags are great for maintaining a high humidity. The pot is placed in a polyethylene bag with stakes to keep bag away from the germinating seed and placed in a light area with no direct sunlight. The pot is rotated once or twice a week to compensate variations in light and temperature.
Propagation of hybrid plants requires a form of cloning. These include cuttings, tissue culture and layering. Most rhododendron and evergreen azalea cuttings root fairly easily. Deciduous azaleas require special techniques to root.
Most evergreen rhododendron and azaleas may be propagated from stem cuttings. Cuttings are usually taken in the early fall from new growth that is just hardening off. Cuttings are taken in the morning when full of moisture. The cuttings are usually terminal cuttings with one whirl of leaves with the leaves cut in half (to reduce the leaf area) and any flower buds removed. The cutting has the end cut off just before placing in hormone powder (containing a fungicide). Then the cuttings are placed in a flat of sterile media containing a mix of 50% peat moss, and 50% horticultural perlite or vermiculite. The flat is placed in a polyethylene bag with struts to keep bag away from the foliage and placed in a light area with no direct sunlight. The flat is rotated once or twice a week to compensate variations in light and temperature. Usually bottom warmth of 75F is used to encourage root growth. Rooting usually takes about 6 weeks for evergreen azaleas and 3 to 4 months for large-leaf rhododendron. Once the cuttings have rooted, pot or transplant them to flats containing a sterile mix of 60% peat moss and 40% perlite. Fertilize once a month with an acid-based azalea plant food like Peters. Removing terminal buds promotes sturdy well branched plants.
Deciduous rhododendron are propagated by seed, grafting or cutting. Deciduous azaleas are very tricky to propagate from cuttings. Tissue culture is used to propagate varieties that are difficult to root. It is a laboratory technique that is very successful.
Take cuttings of deciduous azaleas when the new growth is soft and pliant. This is often coincident with time of bloom in early June. The ability to root decreases rapidly as new growth matures. Select cuttings daily for best results. Trim cuttings below a node (overall length of cuttings 3 to 5 inches) and dip in a root hormone containing fungicide. Insert in a medium of 60% peat moss and 40% horticultural perlite. Usually bottom warmth of 75F is used to encourage root growth. In late August, transplant cuttings that are rooted and grow on in the greenhouse with supplementary light (14-hours a day) to prevent dormancy and induce new growth. In the fall after new growth has matured, transfer to a cool, frost-free cool (35F to 41F) environment to induce dormancy. As new growth develops in the spring, transfer plants to a shaded environment. [after "Rhododendrons and Azaleas" by J. Lounsbery, Horticultural Research Institute of Ontario, Canada]
Layering is the easiest form of propagation for the home gardener. A lower branch is held down on soil (not mulch) with a stone. A slit is cut in an area in contact with the soil and the cut is treated with a rooting hormone. Then the cut area will sprout roots. When the roots are developed enough to support the end of the branch, usually in 2 years, the branch is cut from the parent plant and, if desired, transplanted.
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Angie,
Virtually all azaleas used in the landscape industry are hybrids. Seeds from these plants will not produce identical copies of the original plant. As several replies have suggested, you should look into layering as a way to propagate your azalea.
I would class azaleas as moderately difficult to grow from seed. In my experience it takes 4-6 years for evergreen azalea seedlings to reach blooming size (in zone 6B) so, not only moderately difficult but a fairly long wait.
--beeky
junkyardcat wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@bellatlantic.net wrote in message

Hi....where the flowers are now...at the base you will find a pod slowly develops over the next few months...it will take time to ripen...when it does take a pod or two and sprinkle over a pot with a peaty mix in , water and do all the other bits ....you will possibly get the seedlings coming up like hairs on your cats back...you will need to prick some out and gradually pot up and grow on...it is fun to see what you come up with. happy gardening....Jeff
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