Moringa: Easy Air Layering

What is air layering?

In general, layering is a method of rooting a plant stem whilst it is still attached to the mother plant. After rooting, the rooted stem is detached from the mother plant and it becomes a separate plant.

Air layering of a plant is a way of clonal propagation, which means that the new plant will display the exact same traits than that of the mother plant it was taken from. With this in mind, it is then easy to identify a mother plant with desirable traits and then to reproduce this plant using layering.

Clonal propagation has an added advantage in that plants propagated in this way will not have a juvenile phase, and thus would produce much faster.

How to air layer your Moringa trees

Air layering can be done with a variety of commercial or non-commercial materials. This would include commercial pot systems, high micron plastics, bottles, etc.

In this case we will use a small commercial plastic soda bottle. Start by cutting one side of the bottle open. At the bottom of the bottle, cut an opening for the bottom part of the stem.

Fill the bottle with a moist rooting mix. Do not use garden soil as the drainage would be poor and it will increase the likelyhood of diseas. Get a well drained commercial mix or make your own. Our mix consists of 40 % coir, 40 % peat and 20 % vermiculite. This mix works well for cutting production as well as air layering. 

Get all the materials you would need together. This includes the mix-filled bottle, rooting powder, a sharp knife and cable ties. Identify a healthy stem on the mother plant that you would like to use for layering. The stem should be at least 2 cm in diameter . Start by removing all the bottom side stems and leaves.

At the point on the stem where you need roots to develop, wound or grindle the shoot. As moringa has a herbaceous stem structure, be careful not to cut too deep in to the wood as this will compromise the structural integrity of the stem, and it can break easily.

Apply a soft wood rooting hormone powder to the wounded area. Applying a rooting hormone powder is optional as moringa roots easely with out any hormones.

Open up the bottle containing the rooting mix. carefully Slide it over the stem, make sure that the wounded area has good contact with the rooting mix, to insure good root development.

Close the bottle up and secure it tightly with two cable ties. this prosses can be a bit fidly. after this, Cover the bottle with black plastic to exclude light, as this is beneficial for root development. After a couple of weeks, open the black plastic and inspect for roots. At the point in time, where strong, white healthy roots can be seen, cut the stem, and remove the new plant from the mother plant. Pot the new plant up in a pot or transplant  it into the field.

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