After the cuttings are rooted, they should be taken out of the Nearing Frame. It is a delicate balance, making sure there is enough root for continued growth and yet moving the cuttings as soon as possible to reduce the chance of fungal attack. I am now rooting cuttings directly in pots to make it easier to transfer only those that are ready. I move cuttings set in the fall from May to September.
Newly rooted cuttings are fragile. The biggest threats are direct sun, drying out, and weeds. In New Jersey, Bob placed snow fencing on wooden boxes to shade the new plants. In Enumclaw, he used lath frames, and later, shade cloth. In our Orting garden, I built a shade house (below), but it was more elaborate than necessary. A simple box works better and is much cheaper. The framed shade cloth above can be removed on cloudy days.
After a year in the shade box, the small plants can go out into a field. They still benefit from shade, although they are much tougher now. Mulch is important to conserve moisture, keep the roots cooler, and control the weeds. The two- and three-year old rhododendrons above received shade for part of the day from large trees on the bank above. I am experimenting here in Enumclaw with portable shade--bamboo and oak trees in large pots.
Most nurseries now keep their rhododendrons in pots and sell them that way. This is unfortunate, since field-grown plants are stronger and have better root systems. Burlapping freshly dug plants is seldom practiced anymore.