Propagation of Fruit Bearing Trees by Air-Layering

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Introduction: Propagation of Fruit Bearing Trees by Air-Layering

About: I like to make things more simple with easily available resources. My favorite quote: A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write...

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.

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3 Questions

do you sell this mix (soil) that gets wrapped around the branch? I have never done this, but l want to do this to my fantastic lychee tree.

Great instructable. What's the best time to start on a guava tree? I am in southern California.

Very clear instructions, thank you. But a couple of questions. (1) Some fruit trees require root stock from a different tree to make it more viable. How does this apply to air grafted trees? Do they still need to be grafted onto other root stock? If yes, which fruit trees can be air grafted and which not? (2) When planting seeds from a fruit tree, they do not always accurately produce the same fruit. Is that also true for air grafted trees? Thanks in advance for your help.

1. They are grafted plants not air-layered. Air-layered plants do not require root stock from another plant

2. Growing trees from seeds is entirely different from air-layering. Plants grown from seeds may take more than 10 years to fruit and there is no assurance that the fruit quality will be same as the one from which seeds are collected. Air-layered trees start fruiting even after one year and the fruit quality is same as mother plant

111 Comments

Hello Sir, I tried but the ball dried up in three weeks , should I open it up and water it?

3 replies

See if the branch above is still alive with green leaves. If it is dried then there is no use. If alive keep the ball moistened

How to keep it moistened? It's pretty hot here, do I water the plastic everyday?

Since you have opened it, add some fibrous material like coconut fiber, sprinkle water and then tie very tight. This will keep the air-layered portion moistened.

I have air layered 4 citrus thick branches and 3 apple branches using
some rooting hormone February 8 of this year .and i have done it
exactly like you have done it so when will i see some root.

i have checked the 4 other lemon, grapefruit,orange and mandarin air
layering that i have done it on February 8th and no roots at all ,even i
have opened the plastic wrap to see if there is any roots that is not
visible but NONE .do you think that I have done it early ?and what would
happen since I opened the plastic wrap and closed it .

2 replies

Please wait till roots appear and keep the air-layered part moist

Thx for your response

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

1 reply

No need to prune twigs. Leave them as they are

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

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.

1 reply

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

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.

1 reply

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

Yes, it is possible to air-layer jackfruit tree

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

1 reply

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

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

1 reply

Yes, it is possible. You can try it