Posted by John Minton | Posted in How to's | Last Updated February 3, 2014
Air Layering is the same basic principal of Layering, that is, to get a branch or vine to root into a growing medium so it can be cut from the mother plant and grow on it’s own. Air Layering is exactly the same thing, except it’s not done in the ground, it’s done in the air!
The first step is to get everything together – A pocket knife, saran wrap or other plastic, zip ties or similar, and a growing medium (most people use a wet peat moss, possibly add some root hormone to it).
Make 2 horizontal cuts all the way around the branch about 1/2 inch apart, parallel to each other, this is where the roots will grow. Make one vertical slice into the bark, connecting the two previous cuts. You should now be able to peel the bark back pretty easy. Don’t go too deep, but you do want to completely disconnect the outer layers of the bark. Water and minerals from the roots will still be able to go up the tree, but the sugars and stuff from the leaves won’t be able to travel down through layers right under the bark. Add to that a dark and moist environment and the branch should start growing roots while still surviving!
Wrap your growing medium around the incisions, wrap that in saran wrap firm, but not too tight, and if it needs support zip-tie the ends of the saran wrap to the branch.
I prefer saran wrap to aluminum foil because you can see the roots when they grow big enough!
It’s best to work with at least a 1/4 inch diameter for trees and stuff, but for vines and smaller thing, just be careful cutting or you might cut too much.
I suggest trying to Air Layer with just tiny scrapes on a portion of the vine, or just try it without cutting – Things like Honeysuckle and Blackberry will already root where ever a vine hits the ground. It’s best to do a little research on the particular plant first if you can, but there is always the fun of just trying it however you want and seeing what happens!
I know this is hard to explain, so I made this image to help illustrate. Click to view the larger picture.