Introduction: Propagation of Fruit Bearing Trees by Air-Layering

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.

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

Picture of Selecting the Right Branch

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.

Step 9: Remove the Wrapping

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Remove the plastic sheet. Now you can see the roots clearly.

Step 10: Prune the Rooted Branch

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Cut the branch just below the rooted portion with pruning shears or with a hack saw blade without damaging the root ball. I have used a hack saw blade as the wood was very hard to be cut with pruning shears.

Step 11: Plant and Enjoy

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Planted the rooted branch in a pot. You can plant it in the ground also if space is available. I got a new sweet lemon tree which will start bearing fruits about an year from now.


murps (author)2017-12-06

hello sir!! is it good if i prune some twigs of marcotted branch while stii in the mother plant?

murps (author)2017-12-06

hello sir!! is it good if i prune twigs of the marcotted branch while still in mother plant?

Hoss58 (author)2017-07-27

I did a few additional steps while air layering. After skinning bark I roughed it up slightly with a pair of pliers. Then I wet it a bit and added rooting compound to it. Then followed the instructions that were here adding soil and tied plastic around it. Worked everytime on my citrus trees but after 4 attempts couldn't get it to work on my pear tree.

antoniraj (author)Hoss582017-07-30

Hope you will be able to successfully air layer peer trees in future

KateS124 (author)2017-07-11

Great instructions and seems fairly low care until time to cut away and plant. Just wondering if this will work on mulberry tree that bears fruit.

antoniraj (author)KateS1242017-07-12

Yes, you can very well try it with mulberry tree which is bearing fruits

JoshuaJ106 (author)2017-05-29

Sir, is it possible to air layer a jackfruit tree?

antoniraj (author)JoshuaJ1062017-06-05

Yes, it is possible to air-layer jackfruit tree

MaryH278 (author)2017-05-14

Will air layering work on elderberry? I have tried cuttings with no success. I thought this may be a better way.

antoniraj (author)MaryH2782017-06-05

I am not sure, but there is nothing wrong in trying

khaunga (author)2017-05-25

Thanks for information. Is air layering possible for avocado? I want to try this way.

antoniraj (author)khaunga2017-06-05

Yes, it is possible. You can try it

AkhtarA5 (author)2016-06-30

is air layering possible in apple.

GerryS23 (author)AkhtarA52017-06-03

you can air layer an apple tree and you can take a cutting put in dirt with rooting hormone and it will root too apple trees have air breathing spots on there stems that will turn into roots.

antoniraj (author)AkhtarA52016-06-30

yes, it is possible. You can clone apple trees by air layering.

sheeshaik made it! (author)2016-08-04

Sir, I tried your method on mango tree ,succeed ..Thanks ,but after replanting new leaves are not coming out even after months, old leaves are green and fine , what is the possible reason for this please? any idea ?

GerryS23 (author)sheeshaik2017-06-03

try fresh soil fertilizer and timed daily watering's.

antoniraj (author)sheeshaik2016-08-04

Please wait for some more time. The tree will take root in the soil and then new leaves will come.

Did you cover all those exposed roots during replanting ?

sheeshaik (author)antoniraj2016-08-04

Thank you for your prompt reply as always, appreciate !
Yes, I have covered roots full with soil..I did mulching as well.

RajivS31 (author)2017-01-14

Sir, if we do air layering on a grafted tree (on one of the branches of scion portion) then the roots generated will be of the grafted (scion) variety or of the rootstock variety?

Secondly i have a dwarf pomello tree and key lime tree both of which isn't grafted, if we air layer it, will the resultant be a dwarf tree?

Thanks in advance

Regards, Rajiv

antoniraj (author)RajivS312017-01-15

I have not tried it, but most probably air layering on a grafted tree will generate same as the rootstock variety only. Also, I think grafting on dwarf varieties will produce dwarf trees.

GerryS23 (author)antoniraj2017-06-03


RajivS31 (author)antoniraj2017-01-15

Thank you very much Sir for the prompt response! Highly appreciate it.

GerryS23 (author)RajivS312017-06-03


SarahM462 (author)RajivS312017-05-12

If you generate roots on the scion portion, than you will just have an ungrafted fruit tree. And undwarfed.

EtienneS6 (author)2017-02-11

Hi will this work on Apricot tree?

antoniraj (author)EtienneS62017-02-12

Yes, this will work on Apricot trees also. Try on an one year old branch with good growth

Island Diwata (author)2016-11-23

Hello, Sir, greetings from Southern California! ?

What is the maximum length of scarring you can make to encourage rooting and the maximum length of the branch you can propagate into a new plant? I want a 5 ft. new plant but I'm afraid the 1.5-2 inches cut for rooting won't be able to support the whole (5ft) new plant. I am a little impatient and wants to harvest the fruits, you see! Lol.

Thank you for your help. God bless. ?

antoniraj (author)Island Diwata2016-11-23

You can go for 4 to 5 inches of scarring and cover the entire area so that any part of it is not exposed. Select a one year old, pencil thin plant for air-layering. Instead of 5 ft, go for 2 to 3 ft long branch.

Air-layered plants will start to flower from the first year on wards, but it is better not to allow them to fruit at this stage as the plant needs to establish itself well. After three years, the plant will bear better fruits and you can enjoy your harvest.

DianaS111 (author)2016-08-01

Thanks very much! I will keep watch.

DianaS111 (author)2016-07-31

I live in Southern California, where it's hot and very dry. Several months ago I scraped bark from 3 tangerine tree branches and wrapped them with plastic water bottles. I'm concerned about the roots in the bottle. No mention is made of watering, only of keeping moisture out. We have so little moisture I wonder is there is another method for those of us who live in dry areas? The branch is very happy and alive I don't see any roots yet, and wonder if it's working. I'm not messing with anything, just letting it take its time.

Thanks for your information!

antoniraj (author)DianaS1112016-07-31

Just keep them as they are as the branches are in good condition. Hope you will see roots soon

Trini2 (author)2016-06-26

Excellent article, I somewhat remembered doing this 20 years ago while in high school. Only recently I got a bought a bearing kumquat tree and decided to try this method to get more trees and hopefully in a few years give them out as gifts. Your write up was clear and detailed so I'm quite confident in what I'm doing now. ?.... I used the husk from inside a dry coconut as my medium, the rooting hormone & followed your instructions.... I'm all the way down in the caribbean in Trinidad & Tobago where we got a huge variety of tropical fruits. I'm going to look for the best of the best of some of these trees and get clones of them soon. Your article is quite a few years old but still relevant and helpful, thanks again.....

antoniraj (author)Trini22016-06-30

Thank you... Hope you will have lots of cloned trees to be gifted out. I would love to get one of those rare fruit trees from your land but I am very far away...

kishorej (author)2016-05-19

Hi sir i am kishore from coimbatore , i could like to as u one thing can Indian gooseberry can be air layered , and also i wanna ur phone no , i like to visit u directly one day . pls tell where ru in theni

antoniraj (author)kishorej2016-05-23

Indian Gooseberry is very easy to propagate by air layering. I am in Uthamapalayam, Theni. You can message me when you are visiting this area.

kishorej (author)antoniraj2016-05-23

sure sir thanks for ur response

Metrica (author)2016-04-26

Thank you so much. I had read about a product called Air Wrap in a 1953 rose compendium. I had never heard of this method, and have been trying to save some pear trees that have been on the farm for 100 years. I don't even know what breed they are, only that the one we lost was beloved and at the time, I didn't know how to save a copy of it, and the seeds never came up. I have been searching ever since for that particular soft, juicy pear, which was ugly on the outside but just amazing on the inside. In the fall, we would have those pears for a meal, they were so good. Anyway, now I can save the other three. Thank you!

antoniraj (author)Metrica2016-04-27

Thank you. Hope you do air-layering successfully on your other trees

Libstah (author)2015-12-08

I LOVE this! Thank you so much. I cant wait to give it a try on all my fruit trees. Your step by step gives me so much confidence.

antoniraj (author)Libstah2015-12-09

thank you...

JoãoJ7 (author)2015-12-04

This technique can be done in jabuticabeira?
Thiamine (Vitamine B1) as rooting hormone is effective?

Thanks for guide!

antoniraj (author)JoãoJ72015-12-04

Yes, you can do Air layering in Jabuticabeira plant also.

Using Thiamine as rooting hormone is not effective. Please read this article here...

ToniT4 (author)2015-09-04

Hi, Thanks for this article. I have few queries though.

1. Can we do air layering on the following fruit trees.






2. Can any of these trees propagate with stem.

3. Also, when we do air layering on a branch, how deep should the cut be made to remove the bark. I am not sure whether the cut that i make would be deeper than it is required and would hurt the tree.

4. Why does trees propagated by vegetative means bear fruits faster than the ones propagated through seeds.

antoniraj (author)ToniT42015-09-04

Hello, here are replies to your queries...

1. You can do air layering for all those varieties you have mentioned

2. Most of the trees do not propagate from stem cuttings

3. Just cut deep enough to remove the outer skin. Please see pictures in the instructable

4. The branch we select for air layering is already flowering and bearing fruits. Even when you transplant they start flowering and fruiting but it is better to allow them to get established for about two to three years before allowing them to fruit. Plants grown from seeds are new and immature. they will take their own time to flower and fruit, some times may be more than ten years.

DeepakK36 (author)2015-08-26

Thanks a lot for sharing your ideas. It helps me too much to layering fruits tree. Again thanks a lot.

I have a question that is there need any rooting powder or protein to mixing with soil for early root. Please reply me in this regard.

antoniraj (author)DeepakK362015-08-26

thank you Deepak... there is no need for any rooting powder or hormone. make sure the soil can hold moisture for rooting to take place

DeepakK36 (author)2015-08-26

Thanks a lot for sharing your ideas. It helps me too much to layering fruits tree. Again thanks a lot.

I have a question that is there need any rooting powder or protein to mixing with soil for early root. Please reply me in this regard.

jessey2 (author)2015-04-21


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)jessey22015-04-21

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

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