Easy Gardening Skill – Air Layer Propagation

Today we’re looking at another form of asexual propagation, air layer propagation.  We’ve already talked about propagation through cuttings, and this is similar in that when we are done, we’ll have genetically identical clones of the plant we started out with.  This is my first time doing it, but it seems pretty simple, although I’m not doing it at the optimal time of year.  The optimal time of year is spring, when there is a lot of fresh new growth.  

This is my first time propagating in this way, and being it’s not the best time of year I’m only going to make two clones of two different trees.  I’m going to try to root a Japanese maple that I love and also a juniper that I don’t particularly love, but I want to root a branch and train it as a bonsai.  Bonsai will be the topic of future blog posts as well.  

Now there are devices you can buy for air layer propagation, but recycled containers or aluminum foil will also work.  The process is pretty simple.  Take a knife and scrape off the bark of about 2 inches on the branch that you want to root.  Then, fill whatever you’re using with sphagnum moss, dampen and close or wrap it up.  Keep the moss moist.  Usually you can count on roots in 2 weeks to a month, depending on the plant and the season.  Next year in the spring, I plan on making more clones of the Japanese maple that I love so much, and it will root easier with the new growth.  I will keep everyone updated of the progress of these two branches that I am trying to root now.  This is a natural process though, and roots should form.  No additional rooting hormone is required for plants to propagate in this way.  This mimics when a low branch gets buried and becomes a new tree in nature.  Layering in dirt is yet another skill that we will go over in another post, but I do hope you enjoyed this post on air layering.  If you give it a go, let me know how it turned out!  

As you can see, I removed the bark from about a 2 inch area, then inclosed that cut bark with seed starting mix, water, and enclosed it in aluminum foil.
As you can see, I removed the bark from about a 2 inch area, then inclosed that cut bark with seed starting mix, water, and enclosed it in aluminum foil.

Best wishes!   

Published by scottmeneely

Gardener passionate about organic gardening, fresh food, sustainable landscaping, home brewing, and much more! Our nursery also includes my wife and 2 kids. We work together, learn together, and travel together. My wife is Panamanian and we try to grow lots of good Latin American ingedients. We live in Baldwin, Pennsylvania in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.

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