Sunday, May 9, 2010

Air Layering Camelias

I had such good success last year Air Layering my favorite camelia Pink Perfection - i decided to try it again. I gathered the following supplies: sharp bladed knife, soaked spagnum moss, scissors, string, plastic wrap,and aluminum foil. I soaked the spagnum moss for several hours before i started working so it would be good and wet.
To begin, I chose branches of the camelia that were about the thickness of a wooden pencil that would yield a finished cutting about foot or a foot and half tall.
I stripped the lower leaves that were in the way. Take the sharp knife and make two cuts around the branch, cutting just the top layer of bark not cutting into the woody under layer.
Make one about inch below the other, then cut a straight cut from the top cut to the bottom cut. Take the knife and carefully open and peel the bark out of the cut area.
Next take a piece of plastic wrap - i used Press-and-Seal - place small fist sized clump of soaked spagnum moss on the plastic wrap and surround the cut area of the branch.
Carefully wrap the moss in the plastic, because i used Press-and Seal it sticks to itself so this part becomes very easy.
Once the soaked moss is wrapped tightly in its plastic wrap case i used string to tie the top and bottom of the package to help keep the moisture inside through next few months.
Notice that i tied bows and did not tie knots. Last year i tied knots. When i got ready to take the wrappings off the cuttings - i could hardly get the knots out because the branch kept growing and tightened up through out the summer. My suggestion to you is no knots!
Finally i took a piece of aluminum foil and wrapped the whole package to keep it safe from birds searching for nesting materials and to darken the area where the roots will be forming in the spagnum moss.
I am done for now - there is nothing that i can do until around Labor Day. Last year i checked one "package" every month to see how it was doing, to see if it was staying moist. To my surprise it did stay moist through the whole Summer. There was no activity until the weather started to cool off - here in zone 7b that's around late August or September. Once i saw roots, i clipped the branch below the new grown roots, and planted them into recycled black pots. This was one of the most successful projects i have tried unlike rooting clippings, or rooting in water.
This is definitely the way to go!
Of the 12 that I started last year one died on the bush, and one died after i planted them up. That's a good success rate compared to zero plants that survived as clippings. I hope this inspires some of you to try this easy method, i love it! As soon as school lets out in 16 days i'll be trying crepe myrtles.


  1. Thanks for the tutorial. So I can make larger cuttings this way. I'm considering doing it on my own camellias. Those around the neighborhood will have to be done the other way. I'm patient. God knows I am.

  2. It looks like a sound way to create new plants. I have seen it in books but not actual photos of the real thing. Thanks for the info.

  3. Thanks for the great turtorial, the use of seal and press saran wrap is brilliant. One of my new favorite camellias is Taylor's Pink Perfection.

    Here's a photo of it:

    thanks again, -tc