Easy Aroid Air Layering | The Only Guide You Need

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Intimidated by aroid air layering? If you are looking for the easiest way to propagate your aroids by air layering, then this guide is for you.

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Have you ever had a tall scraggly plant that would look 100 times better if it were chopped and propagated, but you were worried it would not survive the process? If you said “yes!”, then air layering is your answer.

What is Air Layering?

There are many different methods to propagate your aroid. Air layering is one of those methods.

Air layering an aroid is the process of growing new viable ground roots from a node where aerial roots grow from.

 In nature, nodes touching the ground would develop new roots to provide additional  nutrients and support  to the plant.

The propagation created from air layering is an identical genetic clone of your original plant.

aroid air layering - philodendron melanochrysum image 2
The bottom leaves on this Philodendron melanochrysum died off and looked very leggy. It was a rehab and desperately needed a makeover.

Why Aroid Air Layering?

As mentioned earlier, there are many different methods to propagating, with air layering being one of them.

Air layering is one of the safest methods of propagating your plant if you are truly concerned about your propagation surviving.

There is a reason why air layering has a high survival and success rate.

While the new roots are developing on the node, the plant is still receiving full water and nutrition from the original set of roots.

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The roots on this air layered Melanochyrisum are fully developed and ready to be planted.

When it’s time to cut your propagation from the main stem, you essentially have an established plant with a fully developed set of roots ready to place directly in the soil.

The propagation never loses water or nutrients.

Certain scenarios where air layering outshines other propagation methods come to mind.

Firstly, a mature plant where the bottom leaves have died off. In a plant like this, the plant would look best if you cut down the base of the stem, while maintaining the top as it is. You would air layer a node where you would like the new base to be, cut, and plant. A perfect example is the melanochrysum in the pictures.

Secondly, a plant that has grown too tall. If you have a plant that you are fond of, but has outgrown it’s vertical space, then air layering to the height you want is the answer.

Thirdly, a mature plant that you no longer want to keep and want to sell or gift to people. You can make multiple air layer props on a single plant that you can cut and give away or sell with little to no losses.

Supplies Needed

Now that you’re convinced that air layering is amazing and you want to give it a try, let’s talk about what we need to get the job done.

Thankfully you only need a few items which you likely already have.

  1. Sphagnum Moss
  2. Container to soak sphagnum moss
  3. Plastic wrap
  4. Plant ties (optional)

Sphagnum Moss

Sphagnum Moss is the medium we will use to activate the nodes into developing the roots.

It is clean and easy to work with. Most importantly, It retains the perfect amount of moisture and aeration. Also, it most closely mimics what an aroid would encounter in its natural habitat.

As always, use a quality sphagnum moss. We personally use Besgrow Spagmoss.

Plastic Wrap

Open one of your kitchen drawers and I’m sure you will find some. This is your run-of-the-mill, plain Jane food plastic wrap. Yes. The same stuff you wrap your dinner leftovers in before putting in the fridge. There are other options that you can place your moss, like cut plastic containers, cut plastic cups, or products specifically used for air layering; however, they have potential to cut and damage the plant.

Plant Ties

Plant ties are purely optional, but come in handy if the plastic wrap is not clinging well due to the shape  of the stem being air layered. We use these plastic coated plant ties as they’re soft and won’t damage the plant. 

How to Air Layer

Now that you have all your supplies ready, it’s time to get air layering.

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First, you want to identify where you want to air layer. Choose a node where you want the roots to grow from.

Allow enough space to plant into the ground once the propagation is cut.

Avoid having petioles or leaves above the air layer to be too close. They will be buried under the soil, rot off and die.

Second, soak your sphagnum moss in a small container of water until fully saturated. You want approximately a fist-sized amount of soaked sphagnum moss to use for your air layer.

Third, cut an appropriate size of plastic wrap that can accommodate your sphagnum moss and allow you to wrap around several times to secure the air layer to the plant.

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Fourth, place half of the amount of sphagnum moss needed onto the plastic wrap.  Carefully place this on one side of the node.

Fifth, grab the rest of the sphagnum moss and place it on the other side of the node. Make sure the sphagnum is evenly distributed so the node is fully encased in moss.

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Almost done…

Lastly, wrap the remainder of the plastic wrap a few times until fully secured. Make sure not to wrap too tightly to allow fresh air and water to easily pass.

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When air layering this Monstera Adansonii, the multiple petioles required me to secure it with plastic ties.

Sometimes the shape of the stem or petiole can be awkward, and won’t allow you to wrap the air layer securely. In this case, use plant ties loosely to secure the air layer to the plant.

And that’s it! You have successfully air layered your plant.

aroid air layering - philodendron melanochrysum image 8
The air layered roots developed nicely on this Melanochrysum. This was after 3 weeks of air layering.

Air layering can take anywhere from 2 weeks up to 3 months for roots to develop. I wait approximately 2-3 weeks before opening and checking the root development.

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This air layered Melanochyrum looks 100 times better

Once roots have fully developed, it’s now time to cut and plant it in your medium of choice.

Best Aroids to Air Layer

The good thing is that the best aroids to air layer are the most common collector plants. This is not to say you cannot air layer a plant if it is not listed, however; we find these plants air layer the best:

  • All varieties of Monstera
  • All varieties of Philodendron that do not creep / crawl
  • All varieties of Pothos

Aroid Air Layering Tips

  • You can put a little rooting hormone on the node being air layered. While it isn’t necessary, it can help speed up the process.
  • Check often to make sure that your sphagnum moss remains moist. Too dry and roots won’t develop, or already developed roots will die off. Too wet and you risk rotting.
  • If the plant is outdoors, the best time to air layer is during growth periods. Aim for spring and summer time when weather is warmer. If the plant is indoors, you can air layer any time.

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