The Ultimate Guide to Propagating Cherry Trees with Air Layering

The Ultimate Guide to Propagating Cherry Trees with Air Layering

Are you looking to expand your cherry tree orchard but unsure of the best method for propagation? Look no further! This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of air layering, a proven technique for successfully growing new cherry trees. From selecting the right branches to providing the ideal conditions for root development, you will learn everything you need to know to propagate your cherry trees with ease. Let’s get started on growing your cherry tree collection today!

What is Air Layering

Definition of Air Layering

Air layering is a propagation method used to grow new roots on a branch while it is still attached to the parent plant. This technique involves removing a ring of bark from a branch, applying rooting hormone, wrapping the exposed area with moist sphagnum moss, and covering it with plastic wrap. This process encourages the branch to produce roots, which can then be cut and planted as a new tree.

History of Air Layering

Air layering has been used for centuries as a way to propagate plants. It is believed to have originated in China and was later adopted by horticulturists around the world. This method is particularly useful for plants that are difficult to propagate through traditional methods such as cuttings or seeds. Over time, air layering has been refined and is now a common technique used by gardeners and arborists to create new plants from existing ones.

Benefits of Propagating Cherry Trees with Air Layering

Faster Growth

Air layering is a propagation technique that allows cherry trees to grow at a faster rate compared to traditional methods. By encouraging roots to develop while still attached to the parent tree, the new plant is able to absorb nutrients and water more efficiently, leading to accelerated growth.

Higher Success Rate

One of the main advantages of air layering is its high success rate. Unlike other propagation methods that may result in failure, air layering provides a reliable way to create new cherry trees. By creating the ideal environment for root growth, the chances of successful propagation are greatly increased.

Preservation of Desired Traits

When propagating cherry trees through air layering, the new plant retains the exact genetic makeup of the parent tree. This ensures that desired traits such as fruit size, taste, and color are preserved in the offspring. By maintaining these characteristics, growers can produce high-quality cherries consistently.

Materials Needed for Air Layering Cherry Trees

Sharp Knife or Blade

A sharp knife or blade is essential for making clean and precise cuts when air layering cherry trees. This will help ensure that the process is successful and that the tree can easily form roots at the incision site.

Sphagnum Moss

Sphagnum moss is used to wrap around the incision site on the cherry tree. This helps to keep the area moist and create an ideal environment for root formation. Make sure to moisten the sphagnum moss before wrapping it around the tree.

Plastic Wrap

Plastic wrap is used to cover the sphagnum moss and hold it in place. This helps to create a humid environment around the incision site and promotes root growth. Make sure to secure the plastic wrap tightly to prevent any moisture from escaping.

Step-by-Step Guide to Air Layering Cherry Trees

Selecting the Branch

When selecting a branch to air layer, it’s important to choose a healthy branch that is about the diameter of a pencil. Look for a branch that is flexible and has plenty of leaves, as this indicates that it is actively growing.

Prepping the Branch

Before you begin the air layering process, make sure to clean and sterilize your tools to prevent any potential infections. Use a sharp knife to make a clean, diagonal cut about 12-18 inches from the tip of the selected branch. Remove any excess leaves and twigs from the area where you will be applying the air layering technique.

Applying the Air Layering Technique

To apply the air layering technique, make a 2-inch vertical cut into the branch, starting from the initial diagonal cut. Gently peel back the bark to expose the cambium layer underneath. Apply rooting hormone to the exposed area to encourage root growth. Wrap the area with moist sphagnum moss and cover it with plastic wrap to keep it moist. Check the moss periodically to ensure it stays moist, and in a few weeks, you should start to see roots forming. Once the roots are well-established, you can cut the branch below the air layer and plant it in a separate container to grow into a new cherry tree.

Aftercare and Monitoring

Maintaining Moisture Levels

After successfully air layering a cherry tree branch, it is important to monitor and maintain the moisture levels of the rooting medium. Check the moisture level of the medium regularly by gently touching it to ensure it is neither too dry nor too soggy. Water the rooting medium as needed to keep it consistently moist but not waterlogged.

Checking for Root Formation

Regularly monitor the air layering site for signs of root formation. This can be done by gently tugging on the base of the air layer to see if there is resistance, indicating that roots have formed. Another method is to carefully peel back a small section of the rooting medium to visually inspect for root development. Be patient, as root formation can take several weeks to months.

Transplanting the Rooted Cutting

Once roots have formed and are well-established, it is time to transplant the rooted cutting into a suitable growing medium. Carefully remove the air layer from the parent tree and gently separate the new roots from the rooting medium. Plant the rooted cutting in a container or directly into the ground, ensuring that the roots are covered and the cutting is secure. Provide the newly transplanted cherry tree with proper care and maintenance to help it establish and thrive in its new environment.


In conclusion, air layering is a highly effective and efficient method for propagating cherry trees. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can successfully create new cherry trees without the need for complicated techniques or specialized equipment. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner looking to expand your orchard, air layering is a valuable skill to have in your repertoire. With patience and attention to detail, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor as your cherry tree cuttings take root and flourish. Happy propagating!