Layering or marcotting, a propagation technique

Layering is a way to multiply plants quite easily, where a plant branch is buried to produce a new specimen.

This lets the plant produce new roots without yet cutting stems off, which increases the survival rate of your new plant.

Also very affordable, any gardener truly swells with pride when finally cutting the stem, quite like a mid-wife with the umbilical cord between mother and child.

Marcotting or layering is a technique that is often applied to plants that are more difficult to prepare cuttings from.

A few rules on layering

  1. The stem must still be quite flexible, prefer new growth.
  2. It must be buried in good-quality substrate, rich and moist.
  3. It is preferable to marcot in summer, during the month of August.

How to layer

  1. Choose a stem (new growth) towards the base of the tree. It must be flexible to reach down to the ground.
  2. Clean the ground and remove roots, debris and weeds.
  3. Remove leaves and twigs from the portion of the stem that will be buried.
  4. Score the bark lengthwise lightly without breaking the branch.
  5. Bury this part about 2 inches (5 cm) deep.
  6. While still fine if not done, it is best to dip the stem in cutting rooting agent powder.
  7. Stake the portion of the branch that is not buried with a pole so that it stands as vertical as is possible.
  8. Water regularly. In the following spring, you’ll be able to cut the stem that has since produced new roots, and plant it in its new home!

A few layering variants

  • Long stem layering – Almost the entire length of the stem is buried, and shoots sprout at regular intervals.
  • Layering in pots – A pot is used to bury the stem. No more forceful bending, and the new shoot can just stay in its pot.
  • Air-layering (marcotting often refers to this) – The stem is slit, and is then wrapped in a bundle filled with moist soil mix so that it can develop roots.
    This method is often used for the indoor ficus tree.
  • Loch Ness Layering – A long branch is bent down and buried, but portions of it are raised along the way, looking quite like a certain monster…

A few ideas of plants to layer

All plants that have long stems like climbing plants, vines, clematis, wisteria, and also the slightly more difficult air-layering for ficus trees. Plants like the hybrid Bana grass (Pennisetum purpureum) also can be spread by laying a stem down and burying it in spots.