Low-Effort Propagation Tricks

Learn a variety of layering techniques to build up your propagation chops and grow out as many trees and bushes as you need.

| Fall 2019

Photo by Getty Images/taikrixel

Layering is a passive form of propagation. Certain species will layer on their own. And while there are many different layering techniques, they all follow the same fundamental concept: A stem is encouraged to form its own roots while it’s still attached to the parent plant.

Simple Layering

In simple layering, a low branch is bent down to the ground. You can place a stone on top to hold it in place. For many species that are easy to root, this is enough. For more difficult species, you can tie a twist-tie around the stem. The wire will restrict growth as the stem expands through the growing season. After the wire is tied around it, the branch will feel the stress and be encouraged to throw down its own roots. You can also wound the stem by scraping it where it’ll be in contact with soil. This wounding will encourage callus tissue to form, which will then develop into roots. Some growers dust the wound with rooting hormone to increase the chance of success.

Simple layering may be done with a weight on top of the soil, or a stake to hold the branch in question underground.
Photo by Flickr/Internet Archive Book Images


Mound Layering

Instead of bending down a single branch, in mound layering you’ll pile dirt or old sawdust over a whole bush. You can also turn a tree into a “bush” of saplings, or encourage a bush to grow more stems, by cutting the whole thing to the ground in the winter.



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