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  • Writer's pictureShelby Pietersen

The beginner’s guide to air layering your trees

Do you have a tree in your garden or property that you would like to multiply? Air layering is a simple and effective technique that allows you to propagate trees quickly and with a high success rate. In this beginner's guide, we will explore the process of air layering, its advantages, and the types of trees that are suitable for this method.

What is Air Layering in Trees?

Air layering is a propagation technique that mimics a natural process observed in certain trees. When a low branch or stem touches the ground and takes root, it creates a new individual. Milkwood trees are known to do this.

By replicating this process, we can encourage the growth of roots on a selected section of a tree, ultimately producing a new plant.

How to Air Layer Trees:

Prepare the materials: You will need moist sphagnum moss, floral ties or plant twine, plastic wrap, and a sharp knife or blade.

Select a suitable branch: Choose a healthy, flexible branch with the desired characteristics for propagation.

Wound the branch: Make a small incision in the middle of the selected branch by peeling away a section of the bark. This will create an area for root development.

Apply sphagnum moss: Moisten the sphagnum moss and wrap it around the wounded area. Secure it tightly with floral ties or plant twine to keep it in place.

Enclose with plastic wrap: Cover the moss and wounded area completely with plastic wrap, ensuring it is sealed to retain moisture.

Monitor and wait: Check the progress regularly by gently lifting the plastic wrap. The roots will start to develop within a few weeks to a month.

Remove and pot the new plant: Once a substantial amount of roots have formed, carefully cut below the rooted section. Pot the new plant using appropriate soil and care for it as you would any other plant.

The actual time for any plant to produce roots will vary but will average a couple of weeks to a month. Once you have roots, remove the plant material and pot it up as you would any plant and enjoy.

Advantages of Air Layering Plants:

Rapid plant growth: Air layering produces a good-sized plant in a matter of weeks, significantly faster than traditional propagation methods.

Minimal disturbance: Air layering has no adverse effects on the mother plant, allowing both the mother plant and the new plant to continue developing simultaneously.

Clonal replication: The new plant will have identical characteristics to the mother plant, ensuring the preservation of desirable traits.

Shortened juvenile period: Air layering can reduce the time required for a plant to reach its fruit-bearing stage, enabling earlier harvests.

Stronger and more mature plants: Air-layered plants tend to be stronger and more mature compared to those propagated through other techniques.

Time and space efficiency: By eliminating the need for rooting trays and other equipment, air layering saves valuable space and reduces the time required for propagation.

A disadvantage of Air Layering:

Air layering initially requires more labor and time compared to some other propagation methods. However, the benefits and success rate often outweigh the additional effort.

Why use air layering?

The process of air layering can be applied to old and new trees/shrubs. It can allow Bonsai enthusiasts to sculpt a tree and its roots or create a clone from a rare tree. Some trees have

difficulty sprouting from seed or take longer to root with other methods, which makes them ideal candidates for air layering.


What Fruit Trees Can Be Air Layered?

Nearly all fruit trees can be air layered, but some may require more skill and patience than

Others. Some of the most frequently and successfully cloned fruit trees via air layering include: (Note, there are many trees which we have not mentioned below which can be air layered.)






Apple Trees

Hazel Nut


Cherry Trees

Pecan Nut

Macadamia Nut Trees

Pomegranate Trees

Apricot Trees

Fig Trees

Pear Trees

Air layering is a valuable technique for propagating and multiplying trees, offering numerous advantages such as faster growth, clonal replication, and reduced propagation time. By following the steps outlined in this beginner's guide, you can successfully air layer a variety of trees and enjoy the satisfaction of creating new plants with desirable characteristics.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is air layering suitable for all types of trees?

While air layering can be applied to a wide range of trees, some species may require more skill and patience than others. The list provided in the blog includes popular fruit trees that have been successfully air layered. However, there are many other trees that can also be air layered.

How long does it take for roots to develop through air layering?

The time for root development can vary depending on the tree species and environmental conditions. On average, it takes a couple of weeks to a month for roots to form. Regular monitoring is recommended to check the progress.

Can You Air Layer Pine Trees?

Pine trees can be air layered; however, it is important to note that they are more challenging compared to other tree species. The air layering process for pine trees may take up to 2 years to achieve successful results.

Can You Air Layer Oak Trees?

Air layering oak trees can be more difficult due to their asexual nature and thick skin. However, with patience, skill, and perseverance, it is possible to air layer oak trees. The best time to perform air layering on an oak tree is during the spring season.

Can You Air Layer Olive Trees?

Olive trees are considered one of the easiest tree species to air layer. The recommended time for air layering olive trees is mid-August. By the following spring, the new clones are often ready for removal.

What is the success rate of air layering?

When using good-sized plants and following the proper techniques, air layering has a high success rate. However, success can also depend on factors such as tree species, environmental conditions, and the skills of the person performing the air layering.

Can I air layer mature trees or only young ones?

Air layering can be applied to both old and new trees. It is a versatile technique that allows for the propagation of trees of different ages. This makes it possible to create clones from mature trees or shape the roots of bonsai trees.

Is air layering a labour-intensive process?

Initially, air layering requires more labour and time compared to some other propagation methods. However, the benefits and success rate often outweigh the additional effort. Once you become familiar with the process, it becomes easier and more efficient.

Can air layering be done year-round?

While air layering can be performed at different times of the year, it is generally recommended to do it during the tree's active growth period, such as in spring or mid-summer. This is when the tree has the best chance of developing roots successfully.

Can I air layer multiple branches on the same tree?

Yes, it is possible to air layer multiple branches on the same tree. However, it's important to ensure that each air layering site receives sufficient attention and care during the process to maximize success rates.



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