We all like to try and increase our stock of plants if possible and if that means obtaining a freebie or two from plants we have already got, well what’s not to like. Many of you will have experimented with taking leaf cuttings from your indoor plants or perhaps seed, but a less used practice these days is air layering. If you enjoy a bit of an experiment then this method can be used for increasing your stock from woody stemmed plants such as Dracaenas (dragon trees), Ficus Robusta (rubber plant), Monstera (swiss cheese plant) and Schefflera (umbrella tree). All of these plants can become leggy with age or just too tall for their position.
Air layering involves packing damp moss around a cut made on the plant stem. To do this, locate a healthy leaf about 12” – 15” from the top of the stem. About 2” or 3” below this leaf strip the bark from the stem (about 1/2” wide) all the way round and apply rooting powder to the stripped section. Next, just below this cut, secure some plastic film to the stem with plastic-coated wire, to form a pot shape that you can then fill with moss, covering the cut section completely. Secure the top of the polythene bag around the stem with wire enclosing the moss completely. Now all you have to do is watch out for roots appearing in the polythene bag. When this happens cut the stem off the parent plant, below the bottom wire tie, remove the polythene and moss and pot the cutting up in a good quality houseplant compost.
Not only will you have gained extra plant stock but you will still have the parent plant. New shoots will form in time from the severed end or, if the plant had grown too big for it’s boots, you can always give it a good pruning back. A very Happy New Growing Year to you all