Layering is a cost-effective way to propagate woody plants that gardeners have used for centuries. Simply put, a young branch from the parent plant is bent to the ground and buried in a trench with just the growing tip exposed. Once rooted, the layered branch is severed from the parent, and the clone then transplanted.
SELECTING SUITABLE STEMS
The best branches to use for simple layering are vigorous, green, flexible, one-year-old stems, about as thin as a pencil and long enough to bend to the ground. Plants that haven’t been pruned regularly might not have any suitable young shoots close to ground level. If this is the case, in the spring, prune one or two mature branches to within 15 to 20 centimetres of the base of the shrub. Over the course of the summer, these branches will produce new shoots perfect for layering the following spring.
TIME IT RIGHT
Ideally, simple layering should be carried out in the spring before the plant has broken dormancy. That’s because blanching the layered stem (keeping it from sunlight) is crucial for initiating root formation, and the earlier you bury it, the more vigorous the rooting response.
BEST PLANTS FOR LAYERING
CAMELLIA (Camellia japonica)
FLOWERING QUINCE (Chaenomeles spp.)
WINTER HAZEL (Corylopsis spp.)
SMOKEBUSH (Cotinus coggygria)
WITCH HAZEL (Hamamelis spp.)
IVY (Hedera spp.)
CLIMBING HYDRANGEA (Hydrangea anomala sp. petiolaris)
HOLLY (Ilex spp.)
HONEYSUCKLE (Lonicera spp.)
VIRGINIA CREEPER (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
BOSTON IVY (P. tricuspidata)
MOCK ORANGE (Philadelphus spp.)
CURRANT, GOOSEBERRY (Ribes spp.)
RASPBERRY, BLACKBERRY (Rubus spp.)
LILAC (Syringa spp.)
HEMLOCK (Tsuga spp.)
GRAPE (Vitis spp.)