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Air Layering Cont.

Using pliers (great tip) you score the bark in order to remove it and therefore 'trap food' as it traverses through the host plant.  You then apply rooting hormone to the wound.  Taking wet sphagnum moss, you fill a, preferably dark, plastic bag and place it around the 'wound' so the wound is centered in the bag.  Then the bag is sealed at the top and bottom, attaching it to the branch.  Sealing it, you expect to keep it moist and protected while roots grow into the moss.
Once the branch has rooted, generally by the end of the growing season, you remove it from the host plant and pot it up into a 3 gallon pot which has been filled with a mixture of bark/soil with a small amount of slow release fertilizer granules. Place a long stake completely through the bottom of the pot to help support the top heavy growth.  Place the pot in a protected area where it is or can be watered daily.  Keep plant potted, so you can pamper it, for 18 - 24 months prior to placing in your garden.

There a few issues that can reduce the success when using this method: Squirrels - will chew through the bag, you can deter them by using thick or multiple layers of bags or covering your bag with aluminum foil.  If your season is hot or the host plant is in a sunny area, there is a potential that the moisture will not remain sufficient to encourage sufficient root development.  Then, once you have detached the branch and placed it into the potting medium, there is still the potential that the plant will not remain sufficiently watered and the tender roots may dry up and the plant may die.

The following method of air layering has been a very successful method for propagating camellias.  As these plants are very slow growing, air layering gives you a big head start on having a good sized plant at the end of the process.  The major differences are the use of a pot instead of a plastic bag and it limits your branch selection to those with upright growth.  Using a dark, 5 inch square plastic pot is best for this type of layering process.  

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