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Renewing Houseplants by Air Layering
This article was published originally on 1/15/1999
Many houseplants don't age gracefully. Some lose their lower leaves and become tall, leggy, and unattractive. Others simply become too big. Instead of tossing the plants, many old houseplants can be renewed by air layering.
Air layering is a procedure used to induce roots to form on a plant stem while it is still attached to the parent plant. Complete or partial girdling of the plant stem interrupts the downward translocation of carbohydrates and other compounds. The accumulation of these compounds promotes rooting at the point of injury.
There are different ways to air layer houseplants depending on the plant species. The vascular tissues of woody dicotyledons (dicots) form a complete cylinder below the bark. In monocotyledons (monocots), the vascular tissues are organized into bundles that are scattered throughout the stem. Different procedures are required to air layer dicots and monocots due to their differences in plant structure.
Woody dicots, such as the weeping fig and rubber tree, can be successfully air layered by following the steps listed below.
The procedure for air layering monocots, such as the dumbcane or Dieffenbachia, is similar to that for woody dicots. The second step, however, is different.
Once potted, keep the new plant well watered and in bright, indirect light. The plant should be well established within a few weeks and it can be moved to its preferred location indoors. The parent plant can be discarded if no additional plants are desired.
Year of Publication:
IC-481(1) -- January 15, 1999