Layering Plants in your Garden

If you love that big old Ccamellia or magnolia that has graced grandma's garden for generations, layering is a great way to reproduce your favourite plant so you can grow it in your own garden. There are two types of layering:

Simple layering
(suitable for shrubs such as gardenias, azaleas and camellias that have branches low to the ground)

  • Select a branch that is nice and clean and can be easily bent down to the ground
  • Trim away any side shoots, this gives the stem a better chance of taking root
  • Gently cut into the stem at the point where it will be pegged into the ground being careful not to cut right through. This cut gives the new root somewhere to emerge
  • Paint the cut with a liquid rooting hormone mixture to encourage root growth
  • Dig a shallow trench underneath the cut branch, add a bit of compost or cocoa peat, bend the stem down into the hole and peg with some bent wire keeping the tip of the branch out
  • Back fill the trench and firm the soil
  • To make sure the branch tip stays upright, steak it to a small stick
  • Keep the area around the layer moist through the growing season, and if you do this in Autumn, the layer should take root by Spring time
  • Once new shoot growth is seen, a good root system should have developed. This is time to remove the new plant from the parent plant. Cut the stem very low, just where the root system starts. It is now ready for potting up or planting out in the open ground

Air layering
(particularly suitable for trees or shrubs with branches that are difficult to lower to ground level)

  • Choose a strong, healthy one year old stem that has ripened
  • Trim the side shoots or leaves to produce a clear length of stem behind the growing tip
  • Wound the stem with an angled cut and pack it with a little sphagnum moss to keep the cut open. Pack around the stem with more sphagnum moss that is moist but not soggy
  • Seal well using a generous amount of aluminium foil or tough plastic. Form a cone shape over the stem like a sleeve and secure one end by tying it tightly
  • Keep the bag in position for a complete season
  • The layered stem may take anything from a few months to a year to develop roots

Layering can work with most perennial plants, from climbers to herbs or shrubs and trees.

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