Marcotting Citrus Trees

Marcotting Citrus Trees

Marcotting Citrus Trees

What is marcotting?

Marcotting 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 marcotting may include size reduction or increase in crop.

Over the years I have been developing my method of marcotting, also known as air layering. 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. 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 for marcotting with the addition of a few simple cable ties. Simply fill a food bag with coconut coir or peat moss, cable tie the top, make a slice down the bag and cable tie it to the desired branch.

air layer roots
First attempt using my new method.


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.


marcot strip bark
Strip the leaves from the area that you want to marcot. Cut around the branch making sure you don’t cut the wood and only the bark. Cut a band away around 1 inch long.


scrape branch
Scrape the branch in a downwards motion using the edge of the knife. Make sure you go all the way around the branch.


leave excess
Leave the excess on the tree and don’t touch the branch with your fingers.


coconut coir food bag
Fill the food bag with the coconut coir then add water. Close the top of the bag with a small cable tie.


slice coconut coir food bag
Make a slice down the middle of the bag and use your thumbs to make an indent.


Wrap the bag around the desired area and secure tightly with two cable ties. The cable ties should be tight enough that the bag does not slide. Some water will seep out at this point but don’t worry there will be enough locked inside.


Make sure that the cable ties are tight enough that the bag can’t be twisted too easily. Now wait between 26 and 36 days.


marcot air layering
A good sign that it is working is the new growth under the propagated area.


The first sign of roots forming. At this point it is a good idea to check the moisture of the coconut coir. If it is starting to dry out just make a small hole and inject water into it with a spray bottle. Check the bag every few days adding water when needed.


sufficient roots
Once the propagated area has a sufficient amount of roots and they have turned slightly yellow, the new plant can be cut from the tree. Try to make a clean cut and resort from using a saw as it may leave damage to the mother plant and the new cutting. Remove the food bag and soak in water for five minutes.


Now the cutting is ready to pot.


Strip away any excess leaves from the bottom of the stems to help the cutting with the shock of being taken from the mother plant.

Planting the New Cutting

After you have followed all these steps it is time to plant your new tree in a pot or directly into the ground.


It is important that the new cutting gets the right nutrients from the start. A good potting soil or home made compost is perfect to get things started. Place the cutting into a pot no smaller than twelve inches deep until the roots take and new growth is clearly visible. It is important at the stage to keep it out of direct sunlight and choose a more shaded area. Once the roots have taken to the new soil it can be transferred into a bigger pot or directly into the soil in the desired area.

Remember! Citrus trees are heavy feeders and they prefer soil that is slightly higher in nitrogen. It is essential to keep the plant moist but not flooded with water and to fertilize regularly.


  1. I am in the process of trying this method as it seems a lot easier than my conventional cutting method and hopefully will increase my success rate.

  2. Probably better known as air layering. Can be used with most woody plants and many house plants. Works very well with ficus elastica and monstera deliciosa.


    Will a new plant start from this bag or do you cut the entire stem off once the roots have formed?

    • Once the roots have formed the stem is cut from the mother tree and planted on its own.

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