Do you want to grow your own apples, pears or mangoes without waiting ten years for a fruit tree to grow from seed? One way to grow a tree that will produce fruit in a relatively short amount of time is by air layering. This process works with many types of fruit trees.

What Fruit Trees Can Be Air Layered?

Almost all fruit trees can be air layered. This gives you the power to propagate new trees that will produce fruit in a short amount of time. The variety of fruit trees that can be air layered ranges from common orchard trees to tropical fruit trees, such as starfruit and papaya.

Below is a list of both temperate and tropical fruit species that will readily airlayer.

AbiuAlmondAppleCustard Apple
Mountain AppleApricotAvocadoBamboo
BlueberryCherry CitrusFig
Ulu (Breadfruit)Walnut

It is pretty easy to grow your own fruit trees with air layering. You probably have most of the necessary materials on hand already!  

Related: If you want to increase your airlayering success rate by almost 80%, then you have to use Rooting Hormone. It totally changes the game.

Clonex Rooting Gel

Why Choose Air Layering?

Air layering is a process for propagation from an existing plant and is a good option for growing fruit trees.

Planting trees from seed can take 8 – 10 years before the tree is mature enough to bear fruit. That can be a very long time to wait for an apple or another favorite tree fruit. 

Planting baby fruit trees, or ‘saplings’ saves a little time, but it can still take several years before they bear fruit and there is no guarantee about the quality of such fruit.

Propagating from an existing tree is a type of cloning that means that the new tree will produce the exact same quality of fruit as the mother plant. It also allows for the new tree to produce fruit in a very short amount of time, compared to an average of five years with a baby apple or pear tree.

Air-layering is one method of propagating a fruit tree from an existing one, which will bear fruits sooner, and the fruits will taste the same as the mother-plant. While there are other forms of propagation, air layering is one of the best approaches for growing a healthy and strong tree.

One advantage of air layering is that it allows the new plant to grow strong roots, while still attached to the mother plant. In this way, the plant still has access to water and nutrients from the parent plant, making it easier for plants to develop strong roots over time (in comparison to other methods that produce weaker roots in a short amount of time).

Air layering is a great way to propagate a healthy and strong fruit tree.

Easy Way To Air Layer Any Fruit Tree

Air layering is a traditional Chinese process for propagating plants to quickly grow new, strong roots from a branch of an existing tree, including fruit trees.

  1. Choose a small branch (the width of a pencil is ideal) and cut two parallel incisions, lengthwise on the branch. Cut a few inches above where the branch separates from the main body of the plant.
  2. Between the incisions, gently remove any bark and green tissue of the plant to expose a 1.5 – 2 inch white ring of the inner wood of the plant.
    **If using rooting hormone, apply it at this stage.
  3. Cover the exposed ring with prepared, moist sphagnum moss. Wrap the moss with polyethylene film and seal with twine (or other items, as listed below).
    *** Moss should be completely covered with film and the ‘package’ should be tight against the bark, with no part of the white ring exposed to air.
  4. Cover the exposed ring with prepared, moist sphagnum moss. Wrap the moss with polyethylene film and seal with twine (or other items, as listed below).
    *** Moss should be completely covered with film and the ‘package’ should be tight against the bark, with no part of the white ring exposed to air.
  5. Finally, wrap the moss-film package in aluminum foil to further ensure protection from drying out. Tape may be used to secure the ends of the foil.

On a weekly basis, check the moss to ensure it is moist. If the moss becomes dry, air layering will not be successful. Also, if the moss is too wet the plant may become diseased. Air layering depends on a correct balance of moisture in the moss to encourage new root growth.

Tip: the moss should be moist, but not overly wet.

An easy way to get moss to be the ideal amount of dampness is to soak it in water for 2-3 hours, and then squeeze out the excess water before applying.

Related: 4 Easy Ways To Propagate Breadfruit (Ulu)

Materials You Can Use For Air Layering

There are a few, simple materials needed for air layering:

  • Moist sphagnum moss, Peat Moss or Potting Soil
  • A sharp knife
  • Polyethylene film
  • Aluminum foil
  • Twine or rubber bands (or even simple kitchen twist-ties)
  • Tape (electrical, gardening or common adhesive tape)
  • Optional: Root Hormone 

Make A Waterproof Package

Sealing the moist moss in a ‘waterproof package’ is an important step in ensuring that it will not dry out. Polyethylene film works as an ideal sealant that will not allow moisture to evaporate.

Make sure to close the top and bottom ends of the film with rubber bands, twine or kitchen ties to prevent evaporation or airflow.

Covering the entire package with aluminum foil ensures that direct sunlight will not affect the air layering process.

Tip: check your ‘waterproof package’ for expansion.

The damp moss may expand slightly when wrapped up. Rubber bands and twine will naturally stretch to allow for this expansion. If using another item to close the package, check the wrapping 24-48 hrs after preparation and loosen closure slightly, if necessary.

Related: Permaculture In Hawaii

How Long Does It Take For Air Layering To Root?

It takes between one to three months for roots to develop inside of the moss. Don’t remove and plant the new tree in the ground immediately – wait until the ‘package’ is filled with new roots before cutting from the original plant. Cut just beneath the new root growth, ensuring not to cut any of the new roots and then plant independently in the ground or a pot.

What time of year is best for air layering?

Spring is the ideal time of year for air layering, because this is when plants are actively growing and it is easy to remove the bark.

Keep in mind that “spring” is a relative season, depending on your climate. If you reside in a tropical climate, the rainy season is the ideal time to air layer. 

Tip: choose a branch from the previous year for air layering, not a new shoot from the current spring season.

Air layering is a great option for quickly growing a fruit tree that will produce excellent fruit and can easily be accomplished with a parent tree, a few materials and a little patience.

Check out this post for more information about growing tropical trees. (This to be added to link to other posts in the blog, when ready).

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