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
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
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
Make two clean cuts around the branch about one inch apart with a sharp knife.
Step 4: Peel Off the Bark
Peel off the bark between those two cuts
Step 5: Wrap With Ball of Soil
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
Wrap the soil using a plastic sheet of right size.
Step 7: Tie the Ends
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
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
Remove the plastic sheet. Now you can see the roots clearly.
Step 10: Prune the Rooted Branch
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
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.