Air Layering the Easy Way
What is air layering?
Air layering is the method of propagating a mature plant in order to create a new plant. The new plant forms roots above ground until it is stable enough to be cut from the mother plant. It is then grown independently. Reasons for air layering may include size reduction or increase in crop. It is also a fun project for garden hobbyists.
Not Enough Hands
Over the years I have been developing my method of air layering, also known as marcotting. I found the conventional methods of propagation quite tricky and it often seemed like I needed an extra pair of hands. Trying to hold the soil and plastic whilst tying the string around the branch was often quite stressful and time-consuming. After many attempts, I found the soil falling out or the plastic bag slipping open which resulted in the soil medium drying out. I tried many different ideas and even thought about buying some of those fancy pop on propagators that you see on the internet. One day I was working on some clippings from my lime tree and I realized that the same method could be used to air layer with the addition of a few simple cable ties and a slight modification to the bag. This meant that I could simply fill a food bag with coconut coir or peat moss, cable tie the top, then make a slice down the bag and cable tie it to the desired branch.
Things you will need.
Firstly, choose a branch that is appropriate to make a cutting. A branch that is too old will look brown whilst a branch that is too young will be too bendy. Choose the branch that is green with lines down it.
- Make sure to sterilize your grafting knife to prevent the plant from diseases when you make the cut.
- Try not to touch the branch with your fingers when you scrape away the bark.
- Make sure that the bag is attached tight enough that it is difficult to spin round.
- Only make the cut into the outer bark and no the actual branch.
- When scraping do it all in the same direction.
- Rooting hormones are optional but this method can be achieved without them.
- Observe the bag occasionally to check it hasn’t dried out.
Which plants can be air layered?
For the most part, I have used this method for citrus trees and it has been very effective. There are a number of other woody trees that can be air layered. For example;
and many many more…