Should I give up trying to airlayer my schefflera after 5 months with no result? - Knowledgebase Question

north central Texas
Question by aep11
September 11, 2017
My >18 year old schefflera, that's always lived in a pot, is more than 14 feet tall and getting leggier by the day. Back in the spring I prepped it for airlayering, but when I unwrapped the area today to check for progress, I couldn't even see where the bark had been removed. What do I do now?

Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Image
Answer from purpleinopp
September 11, 2017

1

Assuming you have S. actinophylla or arboricola, both are known to propagate easily from ordinary cuttings.

Air layering should work, theoretically, but there is not enough information given to gauge why it has not worked for this particular plant yet.

It is not necessary to propagate your plant to prevent it from becoming too tall. Becoming leggy, excess distance between nodes, is a result of light exposure and intensity. Pruning will not change how the new growth forms, if the light remains the same.

If you are able to add a pic to the discussion, you could get specific feedback, not just theoretical.

Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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Answer from WillC
September 15, 2017

0

Woody stemmed plants will only propagate via air-layering, whereas green tip cuttings can be propagated by cuttings.

It is hard to know where you went wrong with your air layering. If you tried it way down on older stem growth, the success rate there is much lower. Perhaps you didn't remove the bark deep enough. Perhaps the covering of moss was not properly damp or porous. Maybe the wrap as was not properly sealed.

You can try it again, but you need to know where you went wrong the first time so you don't repeat the same mistake. My bet would be that you didn't cut deep enough into the stem.

north central Texas
A comment from aep11
September 15, 2017
The bark stripped was pretty low on old stem growth and the cut itself wasn't very deep either. The plant is so leggy that I didn't want to damage it by cutting too deeply and/or removing too much bark. What do you suggest?

Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
Image
A comment from WillC
September 16, 2017
Try air-layering higher up on the stem. You need to penetrate at least one-third of the way into the stem, but not so deep that it snaps. Use loose, damp sphagnum moss covered and sealed in clear plastic. Get a good seal so the moisture does not evaporate.

north central Texas
A comment from aep11
September 16, 2017
Aha! I used the moss and plastic properly, but obviously didn't cut deeply enough into the stem. Thanks for your responses.

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