Learn how to propagate your favorite plants using the technique of air layering. This step-by-step guide provides all the materials, tools, and instructions you need to successfully create new plants without seeds or cuttings. Discover the benefits of air layering and how to choose the right plants, make the necessary cuts, apply rooting hormone, wrap with sphagnum moss, and create a humid environment for root growth. With patience and proper care, you can enjoy a thriving plant collection through air layering.


If you’re an avid gardener or plant enthusiast, you know that one of the most rewarding experiences is watching your plants grow and thrive. Whether it’s indoor houseplants or outdoor ornamentals, the joy of seeing new leaves unfurl or flowers bloom is unparalleled. But what if there was a way to propagate your favorite plants and create new ones without relying on seeds or cuttings? Enter air layering, a propagation technique that allows you to create identical copies of your plants and promote stronger root growth. In this step-by-step guide to air layering, we will explore the process, materials needed, and tips for successful propagation. So grab your gardening tools and let’s dive in!

Materials and Tools Needed for Air Layering

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of air layering, let’s gather the materials and tools you’ll need for this propagation technique. Here’s a list of items you should have on hand:

  1. A clean and sharp knife: You’ll need a knife to make precise cuts on the plant stems.
  2. Moistened sphagnum moss: Sphagnum moss retains moisture and provides the ideal environment for root development.
  3. Clear plastic wrap or bags: These will be used to cover the air layer and create a humid environment.
  4. Powdered rooting hormone (optional): Rooting hormone can help stimulate root growth and increase the success rate of air layering.
  5. Toothpicks: These will help keep the cuts open and prevent them from healing.
  6. Garden twine or floral ties: Use twine or ties to secure the moss and plastic wrap in place.

Now that we have all the necessary tools and materials, let’s move on to the step-by-step process of air layering.

Step-by-Step Guide to Air Layering

Step 1: Select the Right Plant and Location

Air layering can be done on a variety of plants, but it’s important to choose ones that are well-suited for this propagation method. Tropical indoor plants like ficus, philodendron, rubber plant, hibiscus, schefflera, dracaena, dieffenbachia, pothos, and crotons are excellent candidates for air layering. For outdoor plants, woody-stemmed ornamentals such as azalea, camellia, magnolia, holly, and fruit trees like apples, pears, pecans, and citrus can also be propagated through air layering.

Once you’ve chosen the plant, select the location on the stem where you want new roots to form. This spot should be free of leaves and preferably located about 12 to 18 inches from the shoot tip.

Step 2: Make the Cut or Wound

Using a clean and sharp knife, make an upward slice on the stem or branch. The length of the cut should be about 1½ to 2 inches long and made at a 30-degree angle. For woody-stemmed plants, you can make two parallel cuts 12 to 24 inches from the tip of the branch. The distance between the cuts should be 1½ to 2 times the diameter of the branch.

Step 3: Apply Rooting Hormone (Optional)

If you’re using powdered rooting hormone, now is the time to apply it to the cut or wounded area. Use a toothpick to hold the cut open and dip it into the rooting hormone. Make sure to cover the entire exposed area with the hormone.

Step 4: Wrap with Moistened Sphagnum Moss

Take a handful of moistened sphagnum moss and place it over the cut or wound area. Gently press the moss so that it surrounds the exposed area of the stem. The moss will provide the necessary moisture and nutrients for root development.

Step 5: Secure with Plastic Wrap or Bag

Once the moss is in place, wrap the area with clear plastic wrap or use a plastic bag to enclose the moss. This will create a humid environment that promotes root growth. Use garden twine or floral ties to secure the plastic wrap or bag in place.

Step 6: Maintain Moisture Levels

Check the moss regularly to ensure it remains moist. If it starts to dry out, mist it with water or gently pour water over it. Depending on the plant, you may need to moisturize the moss every week or so.

Step 7: Wait for Root Development

Now it’s time for patience. Depending on the plant and environmental conditions, new roots will start to develop within two weeks to three months. The moss should be regularly checked for signs of root growth. Once the roots are a couple of inches long and visible through the plastic wrap, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Step 8: Remove the Air Layered Plant

Using a clean and sharp knife, carefully cut off the unwanted part of the stem just below the new roots. Be sure to leave the moss in place to protect the delicate root system. Gently remove the plastic wrap or bag, taking care not to damage the newly formed roots.

Step 9: Potting up the Air Layered Plant

When you’re ready to pot up the newly air layered plant, remove the moss from the root system. Plant the new plant in a pot with well-draining soil, taking care to cover the roots completely. Provide the potted plant with the appropriate care for its specific needs, including watering, light exposure, and fertilization.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully air layered a plant and created a new specimen that is genetically identical to the parent plant. With proper care, your air layered plant will continue to grow and thrive, bringing you joy and beauty for years to come.


Air layering is a fascinating propagation technique that allows you to create new plants using existing ones. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article and using the right tools and materials, you can successfully air layer a variety of plants, both indoors and outdoors. Remember to be patient and provide the necessary care to ensure the best chances of root development. With practice and experience, you’ll become a skilled air layering gardener, able to expand your plant collection and share your love of gardening with others.

Happy air layering!


[^1]: ‘Air Layering Is an Easy Way to Multiply Houseplants—Here’s How’: <a href=”https://www.bhg.com/gardening/houseplants/care/air-layering-plants/“>https://www.bhg.com/gardening/houseplants/care/air-layering-plants/](https://www.bhg.com/gardening/houseplants/care/air-layering-plants/)
[^2]: ‘Air Layering: Propagating Difficult-Rooting Plants’: <a href=”https://www.epicgardening.com/air-layering/“>https://www.epicgardening.com/air-layering/](https://www.epicgardening.com/air-layering/)
[^3]: ‘Air Layering: Propagating Plants’: <a href=”https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/propagation/layering/air-layering-plants.htm“>https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/propagation/layering/air-layering-plants.htm](https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/propagation/layering/air-layering-plants.htm)
[^4]: ‘How to Propagate Houseplants by Air Layering and Simple Layering’: <a href=”https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/how-propagate-houseplants-air-layering-and-simple-layering“>https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/how-propagate-houseplants-air-layering-and-simple-layering](https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/how-propagate-houseplants-air-layering-and-simple-layering)
[^5]: ‘Air Layering Makes Propagating Your Favorite Plants a Cinch—Here’s How’: <a href=”https://www.bobvila.com/articles/air-layering/“>https://www.bobvila.com/articles/air-layering/](https://www.bobvila.com/articles/air-layering/)

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