Mirabelle air-layering experiment


Inspired by JSacadura’s high quality YouTube videos on air-layering I decided to attempt an experiment myself on a Mirabelle plum (Prunus domestica subsp. syriaca) tree at my parents place, which gives loads of nice fruits every two years, despite the tree being quite the maze of criss-cross branches.

I started rather late in the season, on the 3d of June:

Checking a month and a half later, on the 24th of July:
(not visible on the picture:) although I thought I had scraped quite well, a narrow bridge had re-grown in the gap of removed bark.

The end of the growing season, 20th of November:
Some more callus and swelling in the top part compared to the 24th of July, but not that different.

As you can see, I didn’t manage to get any roots going, despite the nice callus-formation. Do you have any ideas on how I could try to make this work, or is this an experiment not worth repeating? Thanks!

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Did you use rooting hormone? In one effort of mine I got some rooting using the hormone, but ultimately failed in the experiment.

I didn’t. That would be something to try …
Would grafting these to wild plum shoots be an option?

I think so. Search “sand plums” and prunus americanus for starters here on this forum.

Hi Michael,
8 spent three years at SHAPE and thoroughly enjoyed the Monster area, especially the ancient cathedrals and their various orange concerts, was one of my most memorable times while in the military.
Anyway, to answer your question, I would try a couple of ideas:

  1. Remove that calloused portion with at least 2-3 live buds above pruning away all the remainder, but save the one year old scionwood above that you can graft onto other plum rootstocks in spring just before buds swell.
  2. Plant the calloused stub in loose moist medium outdoors after treating with a powdered rooting hormone; suggest scratching the calloused ares and about 3-4” above down to the cambium before treating and planting. This should work. An alternative to the powdered hormone would be to make your own using the tips of willows, assuming you have willows in Belgium! If you Google willow tea it will explain how.
    Anyway good to see people posting from one of my favorite stations!
    Kent, wa

So much for iPad spellcheck, excuse the Monster part, Dear old Mons


My phone autocorrect kills me all the time.

I rather like some of the language translation errors. It makes it more fun.

I once had something I typed autocorrect to ‘monotheistic llamas’…you know as opposed to all the polytheistic ones!

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While my grafting skills have improved immensely over the last couple of years, success at air layering has eluded me. Several years in a row now I’ve wasted time and effort attempting air layering without the slightest hint of root formation.

I also watched numerous videos, and seemingly did everything right (including using rooting hormone), but to no avail. I’m done with air layering, as it takes a fair bit of time and effort to make sure the media stays hydrated all summer (had to do from a ladder), all for nothing.

To me grafting is way more time efficient, is way more likely to succeed, and if you graft onto a more mature tree you’ll see fruit many years sooner. Way not worth it in my opinion.

I agree, especially if you have a health established rootstock to receive a graft, years to fruit is usually about 3 years versus 5-6 years for air layer to produce. Still it’s worth doing if you simply want to clone what you have and do not have another rootstock to graft.
The key to airlayering is to make sure the limb you choose is in full day sun, using a medium such as spagnum peat moss helps retain sufficient moisture and using a hormone to initiate roots and starting it very early in the growing season to have adequate time for root formation. I have about 60% success if I follow this procedure.
Kent, wa


I have President and Toka on their own roots by air layer. They are well anchored and very strong growing trees. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Be sure to scrape the wood thoroughly after removing the bark.