Whether you are looking to find cost effective ways to increase the number of plants in your garden or
you are the type that loves gifting plants then propagation is what you should do. The technique is
utterly easy, requires no intervention and if carefully done you will have a few extra plants for your
What is layering?
Layering is the process of propagating a plant by manipulating a low hanging stem or branch into
generating root by burying a part of it in the ground without severing it from the parent. This means
unlike propagating by cutting the stem in layering receives water and nutrients until it can do the same
from its own roots. When it does, it is severed from the parent and grown as an independent plant.
Layering is also seen as a naturally occurring method by which many plants such as spider plant,
strawberry, date palm and many types of cactus.
Which plants can be propagated by layering?
There are many plants that can be propagated using layering technique. Almost every climber can be
propagated by layering. Other plants include, but not limited to, clematis, honeysuckle, hydrangea,
jasmine, climbing roses, wisteria, camellia, rhododendron, boxwood and viburnum. Even large trees
such as apples are propagated by layering.
Types of Layering
There are primarily two types of layering techniques – ground layering and air layering. Ground layering
as the name suggests requires the stem to be buried in the ground for root development whereas air
layering is done on the plant itself. Depending on the type of plant, it takes from around a few weeks to
a year for the roots to form. When you are sure the roots are well-formed you can sever the stem from
the parent plant.
The stem has to be dormant, low-growing, pliable and long enough to reach the ground with at least a
foot and a half extra. Typical layering includes measuring around 20cm or 8 to 9inches from the tip and
removing the leaves for 5cm on either side. Take care to cleanly snip the leaves instead of just plucking
them. Wound the area that is to be buried giving a shallow cut along the length. (Do not cut too deep or
sever the stem.
Lightly bend the wounded part of the stem to the ground or to a pot filled with compost with a hollow
hole and secure it using a wire hoop. Now cover the stem with compost. Keep track of the soil’s
moisture content and sprinkle water regularly to maintain the required moisture.
There are a few variations of ground layering. If the plant is a climber and has a very long low-growing
stem, then more than one layer can be propagated. The stem can be buried more than once with the
stem exposed in between. Another method is tip layering in which the tip of current season’s shoot is
buried. The tip with time begins to grow upwards and form roots becoming an independent plant.
Air layering is used for large houseplants or woody plants with stems that are quite grown. For this
method, choose a shoot from previous season or from late summer and for woody plants choose stems
that are thicker than a pencil. Remove the leaves for around 3 to 4 inches on either side of a node. Make
a cut of 1 inch, and for house plants remove the bark of that length instead. Wrap the wound with moist
sphagnum moss or cloth, which again should be wrapped and taped with a plastic sheet or aluminum
foil so that no moisture enters or leaves the enclosure.
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