Last updated on April 30th, 2014
LAYERING IS PROBABLY THE EASIEST — and surprisingly, the least known — method of plant propagation. I’ve used this technique to increase the weigela (above), forsythia, rhododendron, and other shrubs which bring beauty to my garden. With layering, the stem you wish to propagate remains attached to the parent plant. Consequently it receives nourishment until it grows its own set of roots. I’m layering my beloved flowering quince ‘Cameo’ today. Would you like to see the fun procedure?
Mid-spring is the best time for layering. This is when plants are teeming with energy, and have an urgent desire to grow. First, select a stem which is long and flexible enough to be bent downward. Then dig a small, 3-inch-deep trench directly beneath the stem. Remove leaves from the area of the stem that will later be covered with soil.
Using a razor blade or a sharp knife, scrape off a section of the stem’s outer, or “cambium” layer. It is from this wound that roots will emerge.
Finally, set the wounded portion of the stem into the ground, and pin it down with either a piece of bent coat-hanger wire, or a landscaping pin (above). Pin firmly enough to insure stem and soil make contact. Then cover both stem and pin with soil, and firm gently. Keep the soil evenly moist throughout the rooting process.
After six weeks have passed, remove the soil. If roots are evident, sever the stem from its parent, and give the young plant permanent quarters elsewhere. If no roots are present, replace the soil. Checks for roots again after two weeks have passed.
And here is a list (by no means complete) of plants which can be easily reproduced using the layering-technique: Clethra, Forsythia, Rhododendron, Azalea, Weigela, Spirea, Hydrangea, Weeping Willow, Red-Stemmed Dogwood, and Quince.
If you have a cherished, flexible-stemmed shrub, and wish to make more of it, layering is definitely the way to go. The method has never failed me.
Think you’ll give layering a shot? Let me know by posting a comment.
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