What Are Some Examples Of Marcotting Plants? Helpful Examples!

Air-layering, or marcotting, propagates plants from stems still attached to their parent plant. This method allows you to clone woody plants that are difficult to root from cuttings. What trees are best suited for marcotting?

Marcotting is suitable for fruit trees like figs, citrus, and mangoes. It suits ornamentals such as roses, hibiscus, magnolia, and casuarina. Air layering is also effective on forsythia, jasmine, rhododendron, and Chaenomeles. 

What Is Marcotting In Plants?

Marcotting is the most common way of propagating fruit trees. It has wide popularity in Southeast Asia. Plants raised from seeds may not be of the same quality as their parents. It will also take some time for them to grow.

What Is Fruit Tree Marcotting?

The practice of marcotting fruit trees is one of the oldest forms of plant propagation. With this method, you can create a new fruit tree from a branch of an existing one. Fruit from a marcotted tree will be of the same quality as that from the parent tree.

The most appropriate time to layer is in the fall or spring. Deciduous plants respond well to either season. Layering in the spring works better for evergreens. Plants’ growth is active in the spring.

Read more: How to Propagate a Magnolia Tree? Easy tips!

What Are The Tools And Materials Used For Marcotting?

  • Sharp knife or cutter
  • Rooting hormone
  • Tie wires, twine, or electrician’s tape
  • Polyethylene film for wrapping the air layer
  • Sphagnum moss or any other growing medium
  • Aluminum foil / dark cloth
air layering
Air layering

What Are The Types Of Plant Cuttings?

Cuttings are sections of plants used as modified items for vegetative propagation. Cuttings of plants come in four general types: stems, leaves, roots, and nodes. Stem cuttings have three types: hardwood, semi-hardwood, and softwood.

What Are The Steps For Air Layering (Marcotting)?

Step 1 – Choose A Branch

Choose a healthy and vigorous branch that is neither too old nor too young. Make sure it is straight, non-flowering, and not too big or green.

Step 2 – Prepare The Branch For Marcotting

Remove extra leaves and shoots near the section to prepare the branch for marcotting. Avoid leaving old, mature leaves or any snags. Ensure that leaves on nearby stems or boughs do not impede air layering.

Step 3 – Choose Your Preferred Marcotting Method
  • Ringing Method

Dicots benefit most from this method. Remove a complete ring of bark below a node using a sharp knife. Make two parallel cuts about 3 to 5 centimeters apart around the branch. Cutting should take place through the bark and cambium layers. 

Connect the two cuts with a long one. Peel the bark off with the knife leaving the inner woody tissue exposed.

Scrape the cambium layer to prevent the phloem from reconnecting. Cambial tissue removal avoids the formation of callus tissue bridges. If the branch is too thin, you can skip this.

  • Alternative Method 1:

Slit the branch at an angle under a node. Keep the slit open with a splinter. Plants like monocots with less woody stems are best suited to this wounding method. It is not popular since it increases the risk of snapping the bough. Include a splint to prevent breakage when wrapping it in the rooting medium.

  • Alternative Method 2:

Below a node, make a small cut along the middle of the branch. Wedge the slit open using a splinter or other material. As a result, marcotting will be stronger.

Step 4 – Prepare And Apply The Rooting Hormone

Rooting hormones can speed up root development. Powder and gel are both common forms of rooting hormones. The gel is easy to apply since it adheres to the cut without effort. Wet the powder before applying it to make a paste.

If you use the ringing method, apply the rooting hormone to the cut near the shoot tip. The other two alternatives need contact with the rooting hormone on the cut surfaces. Before moving on, allow the gel to air for a while.

Step 5 – Choose The Rooting Medium

Choose a suitable rooting medium to wrap around the air-layered section. Usual rooting media include garden soil, potting mix, sphagnum moss, and peat moss

Sphagnum moss is the most preferred choice among these. Any other lump of a moisture-retaining medium may surround the wound.

Prepare your chosen growing medium by hydrating it. Avoid adding too much water, which makes it hard to handle. The soil, hydrated a few days before, is most effective.

Step 6 – Wrap The Air-Layered Section In The Rooting Medium

Surround the air-layered part with a lump of rooting medium. Wrap the whole thing in a polythene sheet. Use anything to tie around both ends to hold the medium in place. You can use cable or twist ties, electrician’s tape, strings, etc.

The setup should keep moisture and prevent water from entering it. Transparent or translucent sheets are ideal for this application. They allow easy inspection of the air-layered sections. Cover polyethylene with aluminum foil or a dark cloth if exposed to the sun.

 Step 7 – Inspect The Air-Layered Section For Damage

Maintain a regular check on the air-layered segment for damage. Observe whether it is rooting or drying. Use a syringe to water the medium if it is drying out.

Squirrels or other animals can damage the air-layered section. If so, redo the layering. Or, the cut may heal over instead of rooting.

Regular checks help determine when to cut the branch off its parent plant. Ensure that enough roots have formed to support the new plant.

Step 8 – Remove The Rooted Branch From The Parent Plant

Root formation takes about 6-10 weeks, depending on the plant variety and the season. Cut just below the area with roots using a sharp knife or pruning shears.

Step 9 – Prepare The Rooted Branch For Transplantation

Remove the polyethylene film with care without disturbing the roots or the ball of moss. Reduce transpiration by removing most of the leaves and small twigs.

Step 10 – Transplant The Rooted Branch

Pot up the rooted branch using a suitable potting mixture. You can also plant it in a well-prepared soil bed. Ensure the root ball is below the soil level to avoid drying out. 

Some plant stems are prone to rotting when buried. So, ensure the top of the root ball is not buried too far beneath the soil. Watch this video to learn more about air layering.


Cover the plant with a transparent plastic bag to keep humidity. Place the plant under reduced light. Water it well for fast recovery. Remove the plastic cover if the plant shows no signs of water stress. When the plant shows vigorous growth, give it normal light conditions.

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