Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Air Layering

Air layering is a technique used to propagate certain plants, like camellias or fruit plants that have seedless fruit (grafting is also used, but that requires a rootstock).  I have written before about my love for my non-astringent Asian persimmon.  This is one wonderful fruit tree, easy to grow, no pests that I have noted in this region.  The leaves are handsome and the fruit is stunning:

The fruit is sweet, crisp and does not have that weird mouthfeel of American Persimmons.  These can be sliced and eaten fresh or dehydrated.

I would like to get the hang of air layering this plant to make more.  I made a poor attempt once, and it did not work.  So, I read up on it and am trying it again.  I found a branch of the plant that I was intending to prune off in winter anyway. I removed three sets of leaves. I scraped some thin, vertical slits in the branch and packed it with throughly wetted long-fiber sphagmun moss (the kind you see covering the soil in a decorative house plant, like an orchid or bromeliad).  I wrapped some bubble wrap (the small bubble kind) and wrapped again in reflective, foil-like plastic that I saved from some food item.  Then, I "tied off" each end with twist ties.

What should happen (if the plant is able and willing) is that the branch will be stimulated into rooting into the peat in this little packet.  In fall, I should be able to cut off the branch below the twist tie, and gently unwrap it. If I see roots, I will pot it up immediately in a very light, wet soil, covering the whole thing with a clear plastic bag.  I will keep it safe in my garage over winter and hope to have a new seedling!

Happy gardening!

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