A Beginner’s Guide to Propagating Fruit Trees
Fruit trees can be propagated from cuttings, but this guide focuses on an even more effective method — air layering!
It’s a simple process that creates clones of your existing trees by allowing a branch to grow roots and become a whole new tree.
Step one: Start at the right time. Air layering works best in the spring, right before your tree flowers.
Step two: Find a good branch. It should be about the diameter of a pen, and ideally long and straight. Typically these are shoots that appear in the previous season.
Step three: Remove a section of bark. You’ll want to strip off about 2 inches of bark without cutting into the wood below it. Use a nice sharp knife!
Step four: Wrap it up. Apply rooting hormone to the stripped area and then wrap it in wet sphagnum moss. There are a couple ways to ensure your moss stays put while roots form. Option one: wrap the moss with plastic film and hold it in place with electrician’s tape, rubber bands or twine, then cover in tinfoil. Option two: secure a commercial reusable air layering ball around the branch. We ended up going with option 2 because I liked the idea of being able to reuse the shells. We don’t have a favorite brand for these, but you can search for “air rooting pod” and plenty of options will come up.
Step five: Wait! It will take 2-4 weeks for your branch to develop new roots.
Step six: Cut it loose. Once you see roots forming, cut the branch off below the roots and transfer your new baby tree to a pot or into the ground. Ideally it would be initially transplanted into a pot and given shade and humidity until the roots are more established.