This is an easy way to reproduce plant. In fact, sometimes all you need is to have a piece of a stem fall onto the ground and it will sprout roots. Brambles do this all of the time.

As a conscious effort by gardeners, layering can be done in several ways. It involves the following steps:

  1. Select a long stem that can be bent down to the soil.
  2. Make a small cut or notch in the stem to form a wound.
  3. An optional step would be to powder the open wound with some type of rooting hormone.
  4. Bend the stem down onto the surface of the bare soil.
  5. Place a rock or use some other method to keep the wound in contact with the soil.
  6. Wait a few weeks or a month to see if roots develop at the site of the wound.
  7. When roots have been established, cut the branch above wound. However, do not move the plant yet. It is always better to leave the new plant in the ground for a growing season so that it establishes a larger root system.
  8. Transplant your new plant.

For the process to work best, the soil must be warm. So, this is something that is best accomplished in spring as soon as the soils are 50 degrees or more. Also, moisture is important so you need to water the soil frequently. A layer of mulch may also help to conserve the moisture.

Types of Layering
  • Tip Layering - Plants with long stems such as blackberries, raspberries or forsythia will naturally bend over and have their tips touching the ground. Many times all that is necessary is to disturb the soil and push the tip into the ground. Place a rock on it and before long, new roots will develop.

  • Simple Layering - This is the method described above where you wound the stem to encourage root development.

  • Serpentine Layering - Many vines such as wisteria, clematis and others can be layered by laying the vine along the ground and covering it with soil in several places.

  • Mound Layering - On some trees, new growth emerges from the base of the trunk called suckers. If soil is mounded up to cover the bottom 4 to 6 inches of these suckers, new roots may develop resulting in new trees.

While layering can be an easy way to propagate certain woody ornamental plants, be aware that it will not work on all species. Some of the easier plants to layer would include Bittersweet (Celastrus), Deutzia (Deutzia), Wintercreeper (Euonymus), Forsythia (Forsythia), Privet (Ligustrum), Honeysuckle (Lonicera), Mockorange (Philadeiphus), Rose (Rosa), Spirea (Spiraea), Viburnum (Viburnum) and Weigela (Weigela).

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.


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