Air Layering Propagation With Clay, Diapers, and Dirt




Introduction: Air Layering Propagation With Clay, Diapers, and Dirt

I prefer the method of layering over cuttings. The biggest reason being that the shoot still receives water and nutrients from the parent, therefore eliminating the need to cut off leaves.

What I'm going to show you is how I propagate my houseplants. This method can be used on many different plants and yield excellent results. Today I'm using one of my english ivies.

Why Diapers?

The SAP crystal retain water longer than the potting soil, also the drying and wetting of the crystals cause them to expand and retract, thereby aerating the soil.

If you're worried about bleach in the diapers I would recommend a natural one. I haven't had any negative side effects from it.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

What you will need:


  • Scissors
  • Small cup
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Paper towels


  • Distilled/clean water
  • Modeling clay
  • Potting soil
  • Baby diaper

Step 2: Prepare the Diaper

We want to saturate the diaper before we tear it apart and add it to the soil. SAP crystals are hard to handle when they're dry. They're small and they fall everywhere.

Step 3: Mix the Soil

Mix equal parts potting soil and SAP. You may have to add more water to the mix depending on if the SAP was fully saturated. We're shooting for a sponge-like texture that retains water, but still falls apart easily.

Step 4: Prepare the Clay Ball

Grab a wad of clay, then ball it up. Take the ball and shape it into a bowl.

Step 5: Wrapping the Shoot, and Forming the Clay Pouch

The trick here is to make sure there's more room on the bottom, where the roots will form, than there is on the top.

I water the clay pouches every 5-7 days. There's usually root growth in the third week. I just crack open the clay pouch and check for roots, or rot:

  • If there's roots I'll take the cutting and plant it in its own pot.
  • If there's no roots and no rot I'll just create a new soil pouch and apply cloning gel the the underside of the shoot.
  • If there's rot, I cut the rot out, apply cloning gel to the immature roots and place the cutting in its own pot.

Best part is that the dried clay can be reused, you just have to let is set in water for it to become malleable.

Some cloning gels contain anti-fungal chemicals, rooting hormones, and microbes for the soil. I don't normally use cloning gel or powder on english ivy, because of it's natural ability to develop roots under each leaf node I haven't had the need for it.

The under developed roots were already forming so I did not have to cut the bark, or harm the shoot, aside from the stress I put it through while forming the clay pouch

Some may recommend to cut the leaves off from the part of the shoot you are layering, however with the layering method the main shoot still has a pre-existing root system to handle the sunlight. Had this been a cutting I would have cut most of the leaves, and applied cloning gel to the underdeveloped roots.

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    6 years ago

    Great tips :) I wish I could get my houseplants just to stay alive, haha.