Propagation of Fruit Bearing Trees by Air-Layering

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Picture of Propagation of Fruit Bearing Trees by Air-Layering
Most of us want to plant and grow fruit trees at our home garden or in an orchard for their tasty fruits. There are many ways a fruit tree can be propagated - from seeds, from a nursery-bought seedling or by means of Air-layering.

The problem with growing fruit trees from seeds is that it may take very long to bear fruits - some times more than ten years - and there is no guarantee that the fruits will taste same as the one from which you got the seeds.

Air-layering is one method of propagating a fruit tree from an existing one, which will bear fruits sooner, and the fruits will taste same as the mother-plant.

Most of the Citrus trees can be propagated by air-layering. I have successfully air-layered the sweet lemon tree at our home garden and here are the step-by-step instructions on how to do air-layering.
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Step 1: Tools and material required

Picture of Tools and material required
The following tools and materials are required to do air-layering

1. A sharp knife
2. Thick cotton thread
3. Clean plastic sheet
4. Hack saw blade (or) a Pruning shears

Step 2: Selecting the right branch

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Select a branch of about one year old and half an inch thick. The branch should be healthy and free from any pest attacks. The best time to do air-layering is when the plant starts growing new leaves

Step 3: Make deep cuts

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Make two clean cuts around the branch about one inch apart with a sharp knife.

Step 4: Peel off the bark

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Peel off the bark between those two cuts

Step 5: Wrap with ball of soil

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Make a ball of soil mixed with tree moss or soil mixed with sand and wood ash around the area where the bark has been peeled off. Here I have used soil mixed with sand and wood ash.

Step 6: Wrap with plastic sheet

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Wrap the soil using a plastic sheet of right size.

Step 7: Tie the ends

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Tie the ends tightly with cotton thread, so that no water or air can enter.

Now you have to wait for about eight to ten weeks, some times more, before rooting takes place.

Step 8: See the roots through the plastic sheet

Picture of See the roots through the plastic sheet
After about ten weeks time, my air-layered sweet lemon tree branch has grown roots. You can see the white roots through the plastic sheet.
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jessey23 months ago


Thank you, this article was really helpful. When my star fruit plant gets older I might try air layering and I might try it with my guavas as well. My question is and this might sound dumb but when the branch roots. You just break off the branch that is rooted? Also should you let the branch heal after you break it off from the tree before you stick it in the dirt?

antoniraj (author)  jessey23 months ago
thank you... this may not work with guavas, but no harm in trying.

the link between the main tree and the branch is already broken by removing the bark and branch above the cut grew roots to get food its growth. So, no need to allow the branch to heal. You can stick it in the dirt immediately after breaking
JohnB553 months ago

will this work for grape vine

antoniraj (author)  JohnB553 months ago
Grape vine do not require air-layering. Just plant a one year old cutting with few nodes directly in soil. they will grow to a new plant. You can get cuttings from grape growers during pruning season after harvest.
ninais565 months ago

Hi.. iw ould like to marcot a lemon tree that is only a few months old. Can a morcot be done on a young tree successfully? Love your step by step! The best ive come across on marcotting so far Tq for sharing. Hope you can help me by answering my qyuery TQ

antoniraj (author)  ninais565 months ago

thank you for your comments... Don't do air-layering on a few months old lemon tree. The branch on which you will do must be atleast one year old, otherwise it will not survive

Paulwalker45 months ago
I'm surprised that the small amount of roots at first is able to provide nutrients for that much foliage as I see when you potted it. Do you need to trim the leaves when you pot the branch to allow more root development?
antoniraj (author)  Paulwalker45 months ago

The small amount of roots are already providing nutrients for the foliage above as their link to the main tree is broken by removing the bark. No need to trim the leaves immediately after potting as this may sometimes cause die-back.

ninais565 months ago

Can i marcot a young lemon tree successfully that is a few months old ? Tq for shaing..great post!

Thank you for sharing this.

I live in Central Texas and attempted my first air propagation of my peach tree.

I did it on my anniversary on Sept 26th. Just as a fun thing to do. I wanted to plant it on my 30th anniversary next year..

It wasn't too long ( few weeks) and the roots started forming small thin roots. I was soooo excited...I left it alone and now it is January and in the 30s with ice out there. The roots are thicker and growing around the soil a bit now.

Is the cold temps going to hurt the roots? Do I need to cover them and insulate them from the cold?

They are getting nice strong roots on them and I don't want them to die.

I have had a black weed prevention material covering it all of this time over the plastic bag because I had read where the roots need to be out of direct sunlight...????

Do you think the cold is going to kill the roots?

Any information would be great..



antoniraj (author)  carolescorner1236 months ago
you should have replanted before the winter and brought the plant indoors. I think the cold season is bad for the plant. Any how keep it protected and cross your fingers that the plant survives the cold season.

Presently I have no information on this as we do not experience cold season at my place. Any information I get, certainly I will forward it to you
kgosi.ntshole8 months ago

I understand orange trees have to be propagated using lemons as root stocks to minimize diseases and pests. How strong and resistant would be an air layered orange tree?

antoniraj (author)  kgosi.ntshole8 months ago
it is as good as the mother plant, strong and resistant to pest attacks. It also depends on your care after transplant

Thanks Antoniraj. I will definitely try it on my sweet naval tree.

vkumar808 months ago

Yes.. this one is very successful in most of the plants... every year during Monsoon i prepare few Crotons, Bougainvillea, Guava, Lemon and a few Interior plants using this method but a bit different. I leave the upper side open and used to sow one or two grass over it... my method depends on moisturising the stem on daily basis. The result is 100% every time by 6-8 weeks time.

Hi.... I hope you are still reviewing replies. THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH for this post. I want to air layer an aspen that is growing in about 2 inches between my deck and a fence. But it's September now. Can I still air layer? you mentioned that it takes 6-8 weeks to root.... I think that's doable. I live in Wyoming. thanks for your response in advance

antoniraj (author)  linda.hartman.395011 months ago
I think winter starts in your place in November. If you do air-layering now, you do not have much time to transplant. It is better to wait for a few more months
SHEEFLY1 year ago
What kind of wood ash should I use ? do you think it would work for cherry seeds ?thank you :)
antoniraj (author)  SHEEFLY1 year ago
you can use any kind of wood ash. If you mean cherry tree, I think this will work
SHEEFLY1 year ago
Thank You For sharing :)
I will definitely try it !! do you think it would work with only seeds ?
is it matter whit kind of wood ash ?
Thank you :)
antoniraj (author)  SHEEFLY1 year ago
hi, any kind of wood ash will do... I do not get your point regarding seeds. This is a way of propagating a new tree from an existing fruiting tree. This will take only two to three years for the tree to start fruiting where as from seeds it may take more than seven / eight years
RoBear6132 years ago
"Im going to try this with one of my favorite apple trees! "

Most fruit trees (especially apples) are actually propagated by grafting, not layering (air or ground). The cutting is grafted onto a hardy root stock. Many "bred" varieties are susceptible to rot, disease and pests if grown from root.

Also, Apple Trees need a differing tree to propagate; that is a different strain of apple. You can take cuttings from different varieties and graft them onto 1 base trunk, thus creating one tree that produces more than 1 type of apple.
keggen2 years ago
Thank you for the clear and easy to follow ible! Im going to try this with one of my favorite apple trees! Do you know if there is a certain time of the growing season that it should be done, or not done? My tree is already growing apples that are about half the size they will be in September. Is it too late to try it this year?

To Mark429 there is a root grower commonly used for apple trees that might be helpful in this process. If I were to use it I think I would use a small amount (probably 1 tablespoon only) and mix it in with the dirt wrap to make the dirt moist like you see in the picture.
antoniraj (author)  keggen2 years ago
The best time to do air layering is when the branch starts growing new leaves. Anyhow, try this with your favorite apple tree..There is no harm in trying.
Pojeros2 years ago
When I read this ible, I thought one might use water that willow had been soaked in to increase the rooting. Then I noticed you included a link to a how-to about using willow twigs to make a natural rooting hormone. Thanks for both items! :-)
antoniraj (author)  Pojeros2 years ago
you are welcome... hope this ible will be useful to you..
calskin2 years ago
I've seen this method before, but your ible is very concise and easy to follow. Thanks so much for sharing. It brought this back to mind.
antoniraj (author)  calskin2 years ago
thank you...
WUVIE2 years ago
Your timing could not be better, as this is hubby's current interest. Thank you so much for sharing all of your knowledge.

A very hearty congratulations on your win! Your Instructable is quality stuff, you deserve it!
antoniraj (author)  WUVIE2 years ago
thank you very much for your appreciation and kind words.

And congratulations to you too.. your instructable is also a winner...
depotdevoid2 years ago
Very good! Have you ever tried this with a cherry tree, or a plum tree?
antoniraj (author)  depotdevoid2 years ago
thank you.. this is my first attempt in air-layering. I think cherry and plum trees can also be propagated by this way
Rune Cutter2 years ago
antoniraj (author)  Rune Cutter2 years ago
thank you...
dchristo2 years ago
excellent idea. will try this at our garden...
foobear2 years ago
Fantastic! So well explained, thank you
antoniraj (author)  foobear2 years ago
thank you for your nice comments...
Very nice instructable. I find myself wondering if I can do this with the Peach tree I have in the back yard.
antoniraj (author)  Giesterfarher2 years ago
Yes, you can do air-layering with your peach tree. I think this is the good time to do.
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