Layering and Air Layering Methods for Plant Propagation
Climbers and trailers, such as Hedera, Jasminum and Philodendron, can be easily propagated in a similar way to propagating plantlets. Before commencing, water the parent plant and leave to stand for half an hour, just to ensure the stems are as healthy as they can be and are not wilting. Choose a long, vigorous stem, bend it near to a leaf joint and, using a small piece of U-shaped wire, gently pin it down into a separate pot of compost. Firm the shoot in at the point around the wire and water. Once new shoots start to appear from the point where the ant is pinned down, the plant will then have taken root and it can be safely cut from the main plant. Use a knife or sharp scissors to carefully detach it from the parent.
Air layering is most useful when plants, such as Ficus elastica, lose their lower leaves. It is also suitable for Monstera and Dracaena. It creates a new root system higher up the plant where there are still plenty of leaves. Once roots have formed the new plant is cut off the top of the old one and replanted.
Strip a small section of bark away from the stem or make an upward, slanting cut at the point where you want the new roots to grow. Once you have made an incision, use a matchstick to keep the cut surfaces open and coat the cut surfaces with hormone rooting powder to encourage the rapid formation of roots. Cut the bottom from a polythene bag and place the tube over the stem. Tie the bag 3-5 cm (1-2in) below the cut and fill with damp sphagnum moss, pushing it firmly but not solidly around the cut stem, before tying again above the cut. Do not damage the stem by tying too tightly.
Keep the compost in the plant’s pot moist but not too wet. Roots may well take several months to form. Check occasionally by carefully untying the bag. Once roots have formed, cut below the bag and pot the new plant into fresh compost. Take care not to damage the fragile new roots or restrict their growth by placing the plant in too small a container. Stake the plant for support until well established.