Rhododendron Shoot Tip Culture: An Effective Propagation Technique
13 Dec 2022

Rhododendron Shoot Tip Culture: An Effective Propagation Technique

Anjali Singh

Table of Contents


Rhododendron is a genus of flowering plants containing more than 1000 species and belonging to the family of Ericaceae (heath). They are present in a spectrum of colors and most of the species are native to eastern Asia and the Himalayan region. Some others are also found in the regions of Asia, North America, Europe, and Australia.

The flowering plant is of utmost importance in many parts of the world. For example, it’s the national flower of Nepal, the provincial flower of Jiangxi in China, the state tree of Sikkim and Uttarakhand in India, the state flower of Nagaland in India, and the state flower of Washington and West Virginia in the United States.

How does it look?

Rhododendron is either a shrub or small sized tree. Its smallest species ranges from 10-100 cm in size and the largest plant is 30 feet, R. protistum var. Giganteum. Its leaves are thick, leathery, spirally arranged, and small in size (generally 1-2 cm). Rhododendrons can be either evergreen or deciduous. Some species of Rhododendrons have scales on the abaxial (lower) leaf surface (lepidote or elepidote) and some don’t.

The flowers of this plant may be scented or not and appear in a variety of colors, including white, yellow, pink, scarlet, purple, and blue.

In this article, we will learn how Rhododendrons are grown and if you need to introduce it in tissue culture, how you can do it using a shoot tip.

Propagating Rhododendrons

Rhododendrons are quite popular among growers for their ornamental values. Further, theta is considered an essential medicinal plant in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Additionally, in Europe and North America, it’s used as folk medicine to treat inflammatory conditions, pain, gastrointestinal disorders, the common cold, asthma, and skin disease.

Traditionally it’s grown using seeds or stem cuttings. But, there are a number of limitations associated with the technique, which include:

  • The low-setting ability of seeds
  • Poor germination rates of seeds
  • A true-to-type propagation of seeds is not guaranteed
  • Low survival rates of cutting propagation
  • Propagules cannot be produced year-round from cuttings
  • New cultivars cannot be introduced quickly through cuttings

The above limitations/challenges can be overcome by using the micropropagation (or tissue culture) technique. Here’s why:

  • It allows a rapid increase of propagules on a year-round basis
  • The meristem culture technique produces genetically identical plants without somaclonal variation
  • It allows the production of disease-free plants
  • The plant can be produced rapidly irrespective of their seasons on a large scale in a short time.

The Procedure of Introducing Rhododendrons in Tissue Culture

  • Take the explant, a stem segment (or tip) of the mother plants, and surface sterilize it using bleach.
  • Cut out the shoot tip from the internode or node of the mother plant.
  • Peel off the lead primordia attached to the tip, only leaving the apical meristem.
  • Clean the shoot tip removing as many leafy layers as you can.
  • Then, place it in a tissue culture media.

(A study reported that the R. fortunei, a woody flowering plant species, can be cultured using a two-node explant on either ER or WPM supplemented with 4.0 mg L−1 ZT and 1.0 mg L−1 NAA to induce axillary shoots.)

That’s it! Now you are done. In a few weeks, you will see significant growth in your cultured plants.

Not sure how to obtain shoot tip from plants, separate it from the source stem, and clean out leaf primordia? Watch our latest video on “Rhododendron shoot tip culture” on our YouTube Channel Now!


Plant Cell Technology is helping tissue culturists worldwide by providing unique and world-class products and services that smoothen their process. The PCT Store has MS media, agar, gellan gum, Plant Preservative Mixture (PPM™), culture vessels, Biocoupler™, and masks in its store to facilitate your processes.

And, that’s not it! Plant Cell Technology also offers consultation services to culturists of all sizes that help to get instant solutions to your tissue culture problems.

You can either book a one-on-one consultation call or a physical visit to your lab. We help you at every step of the tissue culture process, ranging from establishing a tissue culture lab to preventing contamination problems or any specific challenges in your process.

Further, in the coming month, we are conducting a range of Master Classes for tissue culture enthusiasts like you. The class offers you the great opportunity to directly learn from the experts in the area, who have 10-30+ years of experience.

So, visit plantcelltechnology.com today and learn more about our products and services and how they help you excel in your tissue culture processes.

Happy Culturing!

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